Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oregon Legislature Cares More about Money than Kids!


SALEM—House Republicans today said the Legislature’s 2009-11 K-12 budget will increase class sizes and cut school days, while risking even further cuts if Oregonians reject the Democrats’ permanent job-killing tax increases. As a better alternative, Republicans called on the Legislature to pass K-12 funding based on their Back to Basics budget, which utilizes actual revenue and real savings to hold schools harmless from cuts.

“The Democrats’ K-12 budget is built on a house of cards that will fall once Oregonians have the chance to vote on their massive tax increases,” said House Republican Leader Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg). “Earlier this session, Republicans presented a $6.245 billion K-12 budget that puts kids first and directs more dollars to the classroom. Unfortunately, Democrats rejected our budget plan, refused to utilize identified savings, and opted to pass a budget that will put our schools further at risk.”

The Democrats’ K-12 budget is $245 million short of the Republican proposal- roughly the same amount of state employee pay raises that Democrats have chosen to protect in their overall 2009-11 spending plan.

“The 2009-11 budget demonstrates that Democrats are putting state government ahead of Oregon schools,” said Rep. Ron Maurer (R-Grants Pass). “The Legislature could have redirected hundreds of millions in savings by suspending pay raises and requiring a modest contribution for taxpayer-funded health care contributions. The 2009-11 budget fails to prioritize spending by directing more dollars to nonessential services.”

So far this session, Democrats have increased new government spending by over 10 percent. As school districts cut their budgets and lay off teachers, state agencies are receiving millions in new revenue. Republicans say it’s wrong to force painful cuts to the state’s most important services as the Legislature increases spending elsewhere in the budget.

“While refusing to suspend pay raises, require benefits contributions, or tap into billions in agency ending fund balances, Democrats are preparing deep cuts to Oregon’s most important services,” Rep. Hanna said. “The Democrats’ tax increases will harm our economy, and their failure to prioritize spending will hurt our kids, our State Police, and our most vulnerable citizens.”

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