This week, Oregon state budget writers released their framework for rebalancing state resources during this uncertain, tumultuous time.
Two of the many core principles that guided their work included:
- Utilizing an equity lens and focusing on the needs of Oregonians most affected by COVID-19.
- Reviewing programs and services to prevent reductions that create or exacerbate barriers for historically and currently underserved communities.*
With that in mind, their framework focuses on keeping the education budget as whole as possible, while also protecting critical investments in housing and healthcare – a refreshing development as Oregonians – and the rest of the world – work to address the COVID-19 pandemic and change how we serve and support priority communities.
The budget tri-chairs outlined the following education investment priorities:
1. $9 billion for the State School Fund. (This is 100% of the pre-COVID budget.)
This amount will help districts across Oregon maintain their current service level.
2. $566 million for the Student Success Act (This is 64% of the pre-COVID budget amount of $907 million.) which breaks down to:
$246 million for programs in Statewide Education Initiatives Account – where $133 million of that will be used to fund Measure 98 in full. (This is approximately 93% of the pre-COVID budget amount of $265 million.)
This amount brings the full total spending to $303.2 million for the 2019-21 cycle, allowing districts to continue focus on improving and expanding programs and supports related to dropout prevention, career and technical education, and college level opportunities. The Statewide Initiatives Account also provides funding for the statewide equity initiatives (includes statewide success plans for Black students, American Indian/Alaska Native students and Latino/a/x students), diversifying the educator workforce, and expansion of school meals.
$170 million for Early Learning Account. (This is 100% of the pre-COVID budget.)
This amount covers most of the original funding intended for early learning programs in the Student Success Act.
$150 million for the Student Investment Account. (This is approximately 32% of the pre-COVID budget amount of $472 million.)
This amount is roughly one-third of the intended amount for this account prior to the pandemic. The tri-chairs also noted that they would like to see districts prioritize this funding for mental health programs and supports.
3. Maintain funding for the Community College and Public University Support Fund, as well as the Oregon Opportunity Grant.
We greatly appreciate all of the work that the tri-chairs put into this budget framework, especially when it came to prioritizing education investments that support our historically and currently underserved communities. These are critical investments that must be protected and continued – and we were delighted to see that reflected in the framework.
Next, the budget committees will convene to hash out all the details before the second special session in August begins.
*From the State of Oregon’s Equity Framework, historically and currently underserved communities include Oregonians who are:
- Native Americans, members of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes, American Indians, Alaska Natives;
- Black, Africans, African Americans;
- Latinx, Hispanic;
- Asian, Pacific Islanders;
- Immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers;
- Undocumented, DREAMers;
- Linguistically diverse;
- People with disabilities;
- Aging/older adults;
- Economically disadvantaged;
- Farmworkers, migrant workers; and
- Living in rural parts of the state.