Legislative Report - Week of 6/26
By Anne Nesse
Budgets for Early Childhood Education, ‘Child Tax Credit Bill’, K-12 biennial budget, Birth to Grade 12 Educational Literacy Bill, make historical investments in 2023.
The following paragraphs are explanations Bills the League has been interested in and supporting throughout the session, headed toward passage into law the week of June 20-25, now that a quorum exists in the Senate:
A number of legislators from the Joint Ways and Means Committee that approved
HB 3198-B ,the Literacy Bill for passage, June 20, stressed that continuous follow up by our legislative body was necessary for the effectiveness of any statewide program like this. ‘This Early Literacy for Success Bill is just the beginning of a hopefully successful effort to teach reading that is proven to be successful for all students, designed for working with all young peoples’ ages, abilities, and backgrounds.’ The League submitted written support for this Bill on April 3, in House Education. A Capitol Chronicle article here gives you examples of districts in our state that may be presently using unapproved methods of reading instruction. The large budget requested for this program ($140M), reflected the fact that any new statewide standards will have difficulties with implementation, if we do not have enough, or sufficiently trained staff. This Bill passed in the Senate on 6/25, funded with a lesser amount of $90M.
The ‘Child Tax Credit Bill’, HB 3235-B, passed in the Senate on 6/25, will help somewhat to relieve childhood poverty in our state. The amount of the refundable tax credit and income limits were reduced from the original Bill. This Bill in its original form was supported by the League in written and oral testimony on February 27. The Joint Committee on Tax Expenditures unanimously passed the scaled down version of this Bill last Tuesday, June 20, establishing a $1,000 tax credit per year, for those children and families living in severe poverty, at an approximate cost of $37.5M.
HB 2656-B sponsored by Rep. Nathanson, passed in the Senate 6/22, and was of interest to the League. The Bill allows an opt-out statewide survey of student answers to critical questions, that can help legislators and administrators make better decisions in the future, and allocate funds where needed.The survey will be administered yearly throughout the state, and is designed ‘to improve the health and well-being of all students in this state and to help them succeed.’
SB 283-B, passed in the Senate 6/23. It is an omnibus Bill, beginning to address the workforce shortages in public education, that are happening everywhere in the nation. The League was represented on one committee for this Bill. This Bill begins to establish a statewide data system on the educational workforce. It directs Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to develop a plan to establish and maintain a statewide portal for jobs in education. It includes bargaining agreements, for pay for planning time, and lunch periods. It requires each public education provider to encourage members of educational workforce to participate in surveys related to the educational workforce. It prescribes increased pay requirements, for additional percentage of wage to licensed educators and classified school employees who provide significant special education support. It directs DOE to establish and maintain Safe School Culture Grant program to develop network of instructors certified in nonviolent crisis intervention methods. It establishes just cause requirement for classified school employees related to dismissal, demotion and discipline. It establishes Task Force on Substitute Teachers.
The total biennial State School Fund Budget was raised to an historic $10.2 Billion, as reported in our last newsletter. And paired with other revenues to a total of $15.3 Billion, an overall 12.3% increase.
Oregon moved closer to giving free school breakfasts and lunches for all students, to help childhood hunger, increase learning, and avoid discrimination. This concept was something the League’s action team was supportive of during the session. The Oregon Food Bank was coordinating this effort, and this was announced in a recent press release here.
SB 91-B, passed in the Senate on 6/23. It helps to pay families who care for highly disabled children at home, who cannot be educated at school, utilizing Federal matching funds. A Capitol Chronicle article explains the legislative support for this Bill here.
SB 531-A, tried to establish a Summer and After-School Learning and Enrichment Grant Program, similar to what was designed to work during school closures during Covid. This directed DOE to administer a grant program. Money would come from the General Fund, but this Bill did not succeed in passage. We are not currently sure whether, or how, this grant program might be included into the total budget of this summer or the next school year, in relation to the Literacy Bill?
Three Bills that the League testified on this session involving education, did not make it past their first hearing:
SB 854 required a curriculum to be designed statewide, concerning climate change, adaptable to grades K-12, within all subject areas, with input from DOE, DEQ, OHA, and interested stakeholders within each school district. This received front page news in the Oregonian, as well as a large amount of positive testimony from students and teachers. However, because it was interpreted to be mandatory, this will have to wait until possibly several pilot projects, or a study Bill is designed?
HB 2601, required our State Treasurer to exit from certain carbon-intensive investments, subject to fiduciary duties. to develop a plan to protect state investments from risks related to climate change, and to issue periodic reports on actual and planned progress towards completion of the duties imposed under the Act. Divest Oregon was the Coalition that presented much of the testimony, as well as a thorough data report from Rep. Pham and Sen. Golden. The League’s testimony also emphasized the non-partisanship of this Bill.
HB 2750, prohibited charging of fees as a condition of participating in interscholastic activities (including requiring participation in fundraising activities). It authorized use of moneys in Statewide Education Initiatives Account for costs incurred by school districts and public charter schools as result of this prohibition. The League’s written and oral testimony emphasized this could allow for more types of interscholastic activities in public school, allowing for increased equity in education.
Here is a summary of what Early Childhood Education received in the budget bill from the Joint Ways and Means Committee:
$55 M for Facilities
$23 M for Employment related Day Care
$10 M for Birth to 5 Literacy Programs
$18.6 M for Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Educatio
Here is a summary of what was included in the final funding Bill SB 5506-1 the “Christmas Tree Bill” for education:
Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC):
$5 M for technical assistance
$1.7 M for Imagination Library Program
Oregon Department of Education:
42.4 M Lottery
$600,000 to replace state IT system
$5 M Black Studies Success Plan
$1.5 M for migrant/multilingual instruction team
$100 M School Capital Improvement Matching funds
$15 M for connecting Oregon Schools broadband grants
Higher Education Coordinating Commission:
$20 M Oregon Conservation Corps
OSU, $250,000 Climate Service
After School Care
By Katie Riley
SB 531 - Summer and After School Care – This bill would have provided funding for school-age kids this summer. Last year a similar bill provided $50 million and served thousands of low-income kids. This year’s bill received a hearing and was referred to W&Ms, however, it did not get assigned to a W&Ms subcommittee. It never had a work session or a funding recommendation. Schools were given extra money for summer school and could spend some of that money for extended care, depending on the school district.
SB 858 – Children’s Service Districts – The bill would have provided citizens with the ability to gather signatures to have local ballot measures to form children’s service districts. A public hearing was held in Senate Finance and Revenue, but a work session was never scheduled. The bill was opposed by the League of Oregon Cities (mayors) and the Association of Oregon Counties.