Aug 042010

The U.S. Senate this afternoon passed a hotly contested emergency relief bill for the nation’s schools, fire fighters, police and public employees. On a 61-38 vote, with two Republicans crossing over, the Senate passed a massive relief bill that means $274 million dollars for Oregon which is expected to save 1,600 teacher jobs and $156 million to help the state pay its share of Medicaid which helps the poor get medical services.

Although Republican senators voted against it, charging it’s a bail-out for the union friends of the Democrats, moderate Senate Republicans Olympia Snow and Susan Collins of Maine switched over to give the nation’s Kindergarten through 12th grades a more predictable school year in front of them with more teachers to guide them through their education.

Senators Snow and Collins were drawn over to the Democratic side when certain amendments were added to the bill which included denying American corporations the ability to reduce their taxes to the U.S. by no longer giving them credit for taxes they pay to foreign countries. Another factor was a “take-back” of eight billion dollars in unspent funds for certain programs, and curtailing the amount of food stamps that can be issued in the future.

Lincoln County Schools had projected a $4.5 million dollar budget shortfall for the coming school year, paid partly by reducing the number of school days in the 2010-11 calendar. However, other cuts, including layoffs or more furloughs were looming on the horizon, depending on how economic conditions played out.

Today’s vote in the Senate must be ratified by the House to reconcile it between the two houses of Congress. Reports say the bill should be signed by President Obama on Thursday.

Superintendent Tom Rinearson was not immediately available for comment.

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