The 2014 session ended on March 7th, and together the legislature strengthened our schools, supported small businesses, helped seniors, and made sure government works better for Oregonians. Now that the session is over, I’m looking forward to spending more time back on the Coast. Below you’ll find more details about the legislation we passed to prioritize high-quality education and help get more Oregonians back to work.
Delivering Better Opportunities for Oregon’s Students
High-quality education is not a luxury – it’s a necessity. This year I worked to improve school performance and to make community colleges and universities more affordable and accessible. The legislature took steps to help Oregon’s students and their families find ways to afford education beyond high school and to support adults who are returning to school to develop new jobs skills.
• A few weeks ago, we learned that due to a strengthening economy, revenue for K-12 schools is up by $98 million statewide for the 2014-15 school year. For Central Coast and Coast Range schools, that means a $1.53 million boost next year. That’s in addition to the historic $1 billion investment in Oregon’s public schools that the legislature passed last session. More people working means we can improve funding without increasing taxes!
• The “Aspiration to College” bill (HB 4116) will fund grants to support low-income and first-generation community college students working to make a better life for themselves.
• We expanded summer meal programs for lower-income students (HB 4090). And I stood up to speak on the House Floor about lunch programs throughout the state.
• HB 4120 expanded the scholarship program for children of police or firefighters killed or injured in line of duty to include children of reserve officers and volunteer firefighters.
Creating Jobs and Encouraging Innovation
Oregon’s economy is in a steady but slow recovery. Things are getting better, but not fast enough – especially not for the middle-class and low-income families in our area who must work harder and longer just to keep up.
Small businesses employ over half the state’s workforce and play a vital role in our local economies. But sometimes they need extra help. The Office of Small Business Assistance that I fought for last session is now a reality. If your business has a question or problem with a state agency please call 1-844-469-5512 or visit www.sos.oregon.gov/businessSOS for help.
We expanded access to growth capital in the Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund for job-creating small businesses (SB 1563). This money helps new enterprises set up or expand. By raising the amount of support that small businesses can receive through this fund, we will create more opportunities in farming and natural resources, high tech, and tourism.
We also modernized Oregon’s job training programs (SB 1566) to ensure the system is meeting workers’ and employers’ needs across the state.
Working Hard for the Central Coast and Coast Range
The Legislature made key investments this session that will meet the needs of our community:
• The Coastal Caucus worked with our counterparts in the U.S. Congress to secure $20 million for dredging coastal ports, including $2.9 million for Yaquina Bay and $380,000 for Depoe Bay. This work will support our maritime industries and help make sure those who work on the water come home safely. I am proud to have been a part of this effort.
• I championed HB 4148, which reduces the interest rate that our neighbors in the Senior Property Tax Deferral program pay on their deferred balance. This will make sure the state is not making money off the people this program is designed to protect financially.
• Finally, as one of the few legislators who actually owns a cash register, I worked hard this session to support small business. I wrote and advanced a bill (HB 4067) that would have cut taxes on 7,800 small businesses in Oregon by an average of $900. That bill got bogged down in “Grand Bargain” politics. But I’m committed to helping people create jobs in our communities and plan to bring the proposal back next year.
Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, or visited me in the Capitol this session – I can’t tell you how important it is to hear what you think. Again, always feel free to contact my office with questions, concerns, or ideas. Together we can build a stronger future for Oregon.