Provided by Coast Senator Arnie Roblan
Senator Roblan’s Floor Speech in Support of K12 Budget
Colleagues, I rise in support of HB 5017.
I am no stranger to the budget process in this building, but this is my first session on Full Ways and Means and I’ve been a firsthand participant in the conversation on this K-12 budget as a member of the Subcommittee on Education.
One thing that has become very clear to me, more than ever, is how different budget areas are interconnected and intertwined. We can’t – and shouldn’t – approach this budget in a vacuum.
As a former public school principal, it is no secret I have been a champion for strengthening K-12 education and expanding access to higher education for all our citizens. But I have also seen how the support network matters and how state services work together to take care of kids.
Colleagues, on your desk is a memo from the Legislative Fiscal Office with the subject: “State Funded Programs for School-Aged Children.” This memo outlines many of the ways in which the state funds services and programs that take care of our kids. I bring this to your attention because we have an obligation to take care of our kids throughout the budgeting process.
Here are some specific examples I wanted to point out:
* The Oregon Health Plan pays for physical and behavioral health care services for over 250,000 school-aged children each month. During the 2015-17 biennium, the cost to the state for these services is expected to be $559 million, which leverages $1.2 billion in federal funds, for a total of approximately $1.8 billion.
* During the 2015-17 biennium, self-sufficiency programs are expected to serve over 220,000 school-aged children at an estimated cost of $133 million General Fund, $1.4 billion total funds. Low-income children and their families receive assistance for basic needs, including food and shelter. These children also benefit from programs providing education, supports, and skill-building opportunities for themselves and their families.
* The Emergency Housing program provides funds to help prevent and reduce homelessness and includes such services as emergency shelter, transitional housing, and rapid rehousing. In addition, the State Homeless Assistance program uses state resources to support emergency shelters and the associated supportive services. Together, it is anticipated that in 2015-17 these programs will serve 9,625 children at a cost of approximately $7.75 million General Fund, $16.1 million total funds.
* Oregon Hunger Response Fund and the Low Income Rental Assistance program. This equates to 342,475 food boxes going to households with children.
My point is that we are not budgeting in a vacuum and that the big picture has to take into account all the things we need to do to take care of our kids. There are still budgets left to write. As an educator, I’ve seen firsthand that, day-to-day, many students depend on our social safety net – in addition to the support they receive in the classroom. Our kids are only in school about 7 hours a day, five days a week. What happens to them the other 133 hours of the week has a direct effect on their ability to learn.
We must keep in mind: Every area of the budget is interconnected with the others.
I want to make sure I state this clearly – this budget is not enough and I’m committed to fighting for more. I know Oregon can do better, and as the Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Education, I will continue to prioritize our schools and work with my colleagues and community members alike to find ways to get more dollars into our classrooms.
It’s April 6th – I can tell you from personal experience that having this funding floor will help our school districts plan for the upcoming school year. But we still have a few months left in this building. There’s more work to do for our kids.
In the meantime, let’s send our schools this bill we have today.