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State School Fund bill stalls in Senate

The State School Funding bill stalled in the Senate on Monday morning on a 15-15 vote.

The tie had been expected for several days, ever since state Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene) said he would join Republicans in voting against Senate Bill 5519. The bill significantly increases school funding in the next biennium, to $6.55 billion, but Edwards has said he cannot support it because Eugene schools still face a large budget deficit.

Betsy Miller-Jones, OSBA’s executive director, said legislators continue to work toward a compromise on increased revenue and reforms of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Those negotiations, which are being supported by Gov. Kitzhaber, are expected to make roughly $7 billion available for K-12 education in 2013-15. OSBA’s legislative staff is closely monitoring the negotiation process.

Such a compromise is expected to resolve Edwards’ opposition and ensure the bill’s passage. In the meantime, Miller-Jones said, school districts should stay the course with budgeting plans and continue their support of bipartisan measures on revenue and PERS reform.

“We remain very close to a compromise that will put Oregon schools back on track,” Miller-Jones said. “With the future of Oregon’s children at stake, we are confident that legislators will continue to search for a solution.”