Oregon Legislature Update: Week 15

The Oregon Legislature is in week 15 of the legislative session. With just more than two months to complete their work, lawmakers are making progress on passing education budgets.

The Joint Committee on Student Success passed HB 3427 on Monday, April 29 out of committee. This is the revenue package that will raise approximately $2 billion each biennia moving forward for early childhood and K-12 school districts and students. The proposed package is funded by a corporate activities tax. The measure now moves to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.

Despite our best efforts, lawmakers were unwilling to include funding for students at public universities or community colleges in this package. As a result, we’re working hard to continue to advocate to increase the funding in the Public University Support Fund (PUSF) and for the Oregon Opportunity Grant—the state’s only need-based financial aid program.

Legislators will wait until after the revenue forecast on May 15 to make final budget decisions so they can see whether they will have more, less, or about the same amount of taxpayer revenue they anticipated to spend this biennium.

Our goal is simple: Increase funding in the PUSF by at least $120 million this session so students take on less debt, graduate on time, and enter the workforce prepared with the skills for which Oregon employers are hiring.

University of Oregon trustees, staff, faculty, students, and alumni have been advocating in Salem all session long. Our next big advocacy day point is Wednesday, May 8. That’s UO Day at the Capitol, and we need as many advocates to come to Salem to tell lawmakers to increase funding for higher education and for students.

You can sign up for UO Day at the Capitol here: Deadline to sign up is Wednesday, May 1.

More on budget:

  • Lawmakers intend to pass a bill that would reduce the overall “kicker” by $108 million. This would make additional General Funds available to craft the 2019-21 state budget.
  • Governor Brown presented a proposed tobacco tax that would raise taxes on cigarettes by $2 per package and introduce the first tax in the nation on vaping and e-cigarettes. The package would raise $346 million in total that, along with a tax on companies whose employees qualify for Medicaid, would be used to pay the state’s share of Medicaid.