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War of words

Oregon politicians are taking to the airwaves and to the road to sell voters on their plans for funding K-12 education this legislative session.

Gov. John A. Kitzhaber

Republicans have produced a $15,000 series of radio and newspaper advertisements blasting Democratic Gov. John A. Kitzhaber's proposed $4.95 billion education budget for the next biennium. The governor would finance his $600 million boost for elementary and secondary schools, in part, by increasing corporate income taxes and canceling a scheduled income-tax rebate for voters.

The newspaper ads feature a package of luncheon meat with Gov. Kitzhaber's name on the label alongside the slogan, "Oregon families can't afford the governor's baloney." House Republicans, who have proposed an education budget of $4.73 billion, say tax hikes aren't needed.

Meanwhile, the governor and some 35 Democratic senators and representatives took to the road this month for an education "fact-finding mission," during which they visited more than 30 schools statewide. The day-long event, which ground legislative business in the Capitol to a halt, was designed to rally support for increased education spending.

The lone Republican on the trip was Rep. Lynn Lundquist, who was removed as the chairman of the joint education-funding committee last month by a fellow Republican, Speaker of the House Lynn Snodgrass.

In an editorial in the Portland Oregonian newspaper, Mr. Lundquist said that he had been forced to step down when he would not "rubber stamp" a budget figure for education that he believed was insufficient.

And while lawmakers battle, state education leaders are pushing to delay the date by which students would have to meet new academic standards.

This year's 10th graders can earn a "certificate of initial mastery" if they meet state benchmarks in English, math, writing, and speaking. But state officials want to push back the science and social studies requirements until the 2002-03 and 2003-04 school years respectively so that the state would have time to develop standards, assessments, and resources for teachers, and districts would have time to prepare students.

--Lynn Olson

Vol. 18, Issue 31, Page 17

Published in Print: April 14, 1999, as State Journal
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