As of Feb. 1, Oregon's 2017 Legislative session is officially underway, and as you know, budget cuts are looming here in Oregon. Oregon families are facing massive cuts to schools, health care, and the services we all rely on daily. This is unacceptable. Unfortunately, as long as the world’s largest corporations pay the lowest corporate taxes in the nation, it will remain our reality. Every day, your OEA lobbyists are in Salem advocating for the issues that matter most to you and your students. Here’s a quick run- down of our legislative priorities this session:
REVENUE & BUDGET: The current structural de cit of $1.8B for the 2017-19 biennium is a cause of major concern. Budgets released by both Governor Brown and the Co-Chairs of Ways and Means Committee have drastic cuts that will result in the loss of programs and larger class sizes. Our students deserve new revenue that will not only allow us to ll our budget hole, but also allow for real investment in our students. Given budget shortfalls, we believe that our K-12 schools will need at least $8.4B budget to maintain services at their current levels. Funding for Oregon’s community colleges needs to be restored to allow students to take their next steps and become career ready. In order to maintain our community colleges at their current level, an investment of $643M is required.
PRODUCTIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS: Educators are experiencing a dramatic rise in behavioral outbursts and struggling with a marked lack of sup- ports to ensure productive learning environments in their classrooms. OEA will pursue a suite of options to begin an ongoing effort to address these challenges. Among the options will be additional support staff, improved reporting and training, clarified rules, and the study and pilot of more modern, effective approaches to student discipline.
EDUCATION GOVERNANCE: OEA’s bill to continue the progress on education governance improvements will include three components: re-enfranchising voters by re- storing the elected Superintendent of Public Education; creating more educator voice by redesigning the State Board (gubernatorial appointment of educators for half, elected citizens for the other half); and changing process to enable public input to Board decisions at the time of their policy and administrative rule determinations.
40-40-20 REVISION: OEA's bill to revise the state's education mandate to focus on a student-centered, comprehensive educational opportunity approach, will be sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators. Our goal is to ensure 100 percent access to education through the post-secondary level. (HB 2587)
COMMUNITY COLLEGES: We support securing health care for part-time faculty of community colleges who currently are left without it. OEA will also participate in any conversations regarding suggested performance based funding, dual credit or accelerated learning to ensure a faculty voice in any proposed changes where we have concerns and input.
EQUITY COALITION: OEA is a member of the Fair Shot steering committee and we have signed onto the Fair Shot agenda for 2017. This package of proposals seeks to improve access to affordable health care for all children; establish workplace policies that give us time to care for ourselves and our families; make sure every Oregonian is treated fairly under the law by addressing pro ling; empower people to make decisions about when and whether to become a par- ent; and protect reproductive healthcare.
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM: OEA will work to keep Oregon’s promise to educators and other public servants by saying no to illegal and unfair attacks on the retirement benefits public employees count on.
MAKING CLASS SIZE A MANDATORY SUBJECT OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Oregon has among the highest class sizes in the nation, and educators have little say over the class sizes they are given to work with each year. HB 2651 would add class size to the contractual terms subject to mandatory bargaining, giving educators more ability to determine the role class size should play in their contract, and increase the ability of educators to continue fighting for smaller class sizes to better serve Oregon students.