Friday, November 4, 2016

Portland School Board Members Endorse YES on 97

Following is a statement from Portland Public's School Board members who urge a YES vote on Measure 97! Oregon Save Our Schools thanks these board members for speaking up for the schools our children deserve. 

As Portland School Board members we are voting for Measure 97 and implore you to do the same.

And we’re not alone. Across Oregon, public school board members are acutely aware of the precarious nature of state school funding. For 25 years, Oregon school boards have cobbled together budgets knowing we were denying our children opportunities and the chance for a prosperous future we ourselves enjoyed.  Communities have worked hard to fill some gaps, but funding remains unstable and inadequate. Portland Public Schools has had only two years of increased funding in decades, and we are looking at more budget cuts next year unless we take action now. 

Without tax revenues, the state can’t fund education and other essential services, such as healthcare, that have a direct impact on our students and their ability to learn. Since 1990, more than two generations of Oregon students have experienced almost endless cuts; we’re not talking about luxuries, we’re talking about cuts in basic education. 

In spite of having a growing economy in Oregon and adding jobs to the economy at more than twice the rate of the nation as a whole, our corporate income tax structure is so skewed that the state is facing a potential $1.4 Billion deficit in the next biennium.  For Portland Public Schools, our current projections translate that into a potential $60 million shortfall in our 2017-2018 school year - the cost of up to 600 teaching positions, or ten weeks of school.

School Board members, parents, and community members have lobbied legislators in Salem for 25 years for meaningful tax reform to invest in education. We’ve gotten almost nothing.

Parents, teachers, and community groups have come together to support Measure 97— the first serious attempt to restore funding for education to where it used to be. Measure 97 is simple.  It changes four sentences in the existing tax code and lifts the cap on tax payments for the very largest corporations.  It will affect only a small sliver of the business sector in Oregon: C-corporations (those with shareholders) that make over $25 million in sales.  These are the very corporations that have enjoyed unprecedented profits for the last two decades. 
Measure 97 asks big corporations to pay their fair share to support the things that benefit them: an educated workforce and a community that is healthy and able to consume their products.

Measure 97 will bring in $3 Billion a year for essential services and replace the revenue we lost after Measure 5, reversing the decades of catastrophic disinvestment in education and other services that threaten the future of Oregon.  These new revenues should fill the $2 Billion deficit in school funding and finally allow all of this state’s children to get the quality education they need to thrive as adults.  Portland Public schools estimates this will bring an additional $80 million a year.  That translates into realizing our goals for Portland Public Schools students:  raising graduation rates, increasing literacy, decreasing class sizes, addressing deferred maintenance, and adding back the arts, career and technical, and hands-on learning programs. 
We’ve heard the arguments against M97, but the fact is without its passage tax reform will not happen anytime soon, and the desperately needed revenue for our state will be left in the pockets of corporations instead of going to needed services like education for our citizens.
Please vote YES on M97.  Our children can’t wait any longer.

Portland School Board Members:  Paul Anthony, Steve Buel, Julie Esparza-Brown, Tom Koehler (Board Chair), and Mike Rosen