K-12 Education Funding Package
Educating Oregon students during the pandemic has been an immense challenge over the past year. Safety measures put into place due to COVID-19 wreaked havoc on student learning and school operations. School districts were forced to move to distance learning to protect students and staff from contracting COVID-19. Schools have now reopened, many are doing a combination of both in-person and on-line instruction, as we emerge from the pandemic and start to relax some COVID-19 related restrictions.
Public school funding is always a major issue during the long Legislative session, and this year the Joint Subcommittee on Education is working on a $9.3 billion dollar funding plan for K-12 schools. This plan includes $200 million from the Education Stability Fund, which is the rainy day fund set up in 2002 to fund schools in times of crisis. The $9.3 billion package will help Oregon’s nearly 200 school districts meet the needs of students, families and teachers as they return to school this fall.
This school funding proposal is in addition to the $250 million for summer learning programs approved by the Legislature in April. The summer learning and enrichment programs will allow many students to catch up and get ready for fall classes. Another funding source for schools will come from the 2019 Student Success Act, which directs corporate tax revenue to classrooms and school programs.
The move to remote learning highlighted a huge disparity between urban and rural access to broadband internet capacity, and demonstrated that much more work needs to be done to support all Oregon students.
HB 2323 A: Would prohibit knowingly communicating false statements with intent to mislead voters. Currently, Oregon law prohibits a person from knowingly communicating false information about a candidate, political committee, or measure. HB 2323 A would add a prohibition on making false statements about the date of an election, deadline for delivering ballots, voter registration deadline, method of registering to vote, location where a ballot may be delivered, and qualification of electors or voter registration status within specified time limits. The bill also requires imitation voters’ pamphlets printed or circulated, to be clearly marked as “not-official” and establishes a civil penalty of $10,000 per violation.
The proliferation and spread of misinformation about elections is seen as one of the biggest threats to election integrity and our democracy. HB 2323 A takes a measured and practical approach to the problem of false and misleading statements about elections by authorizing Oregon’s Attorney General to pursue those attempting to mislead voters. The Attorney General will be able to verify complaints and use discretion in pursuing litigation.
HB 2323 A is supported by the Oregon Secretary of State, the League of Women Voters of Oregon, and the American Association of University Women of Oregon, it received a bipartisan 54-3 House floor vote and now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Due to the COVID-19 health protection restrictions, the Capitol building remains closed to the public. Committee work is being done
remotely, and the public is still able to weigh in on bills and other issues. This can be done in writing, by phone or by computer link-up. It has never been more important to be a part of the process.
If you have concerns or comment about a state issue, agency or proposed legislation, please contact my office. It is my privilege to represent you in the House of Representatives as we undertake this important work together.
Rep. Brad Witt serves House District 31. He may be reached at: