« Bipartisan Group Develops Anti-Meth Package | Home Page | House Bill 3084: A Real Solution to Forced Annexations. »

“It Ain’t Over till It’s Over”

House Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley is a third term legislator representing NE Portland


“It ain’t over till it’s over,” Yogi Berra once said.

During the past couple of weeks, the Democrats in the Oregon House lost a battle to prevent the Republican majority from cutting schools, but we haven’t given up. We’ll keep swinging, because the game isn’t over yet.

We brought a “no-cuts” school budget to the floor for a vote—a simple $5.4-billion bill that would have prevented shortening Oregon’s school year, laying off hundreds more teachers, and making Oregon’s classes even bigger. During the debate, we would have shown that strong schools are critical to our children’s success and a strong economy. We would have torn apart false Republican claims that pit schools against programs for seniors and other vulnerable citizens. Finally, we would have shown that we can pass a no-cuts budget for schools without raising taxes.

Unfortunately, the Republicans had no heart for the debate. Employing a homegrown version of the “nuclear option,” they killed the bill without discussion or a vote—another example of Republicans campaigning as champions of public education, but abandoning schools when it’s time to vote.

That’s a shame. Oregonians deserve a full-blown debate over schools.

Democrats believe “Education is Job One.” If we had our way, the House would pass a bill providing access to Head Start for all eligible children. We would adopt a “no-cuts” funding bill for schools and pass measures to ensure accountability. We would enact robust programs for community colleges. We would invest in expanded Opportunity Grants and greater funding for university-based high-tech research and engineering. And finally, we would adopt a K-12 School Stability Plan that features a spending floor—not the House Speaker’s spending cap, which would drag our public schools down from mediocre to abysmal.

The legislature still has time to adopt an aggressive education agenda while strengthening programs that help seniors, disabled people and other vulnerable citizens. Funds are not the issue. The May economic forecast projected an increase of more than $400 million in revenues over the December forecast. Common School Fund revenues have surged over $55 million. More than $175 million sits in the School Stability Fund. And the addition of video slots will bring in an additional $120 million.

The excuses are gone. House Democrats will keep fighting for a real debate over education, its importance to our children, and its critical relevance to Oregon’s economy. We will seize every opportunity to emphasize that education must be “Job One” if Oregon hopes to prosper in the hyper-competitive world of the 21st century. One thing is certain: we cannot thrive in the “knowledge economy” if we have the shortest school years and largest class sizes in the nation.

Yogi was right: It ain’t over till it’s over. But we’re in the bottom of the ninth. If you care about the game and want to play, now’s the time. Call your Representative or Senator, and help the Legislature do the right thing to rebuild Oregon.

June 6, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
TrackBacks (0) | Comments (6 so far)
Permalink: “It Ain’t Over till It’s Over”


Yogi never PANDERED or whined to the crowd. He just played ball\\\

Posted by: rrrinowatch | Jun 6, 2005 10:47:44 AM

Lets think about that for a second. If fully funding our schools is pandering, that would mean the House Democrats are pandering to kids, parents, and Oregon businesses who rely on an educated workforce.

That seems much better than cutting our schools in order to pander to powerful special interests by creating more tax loopholes for out of state corporations and the ultra wealthy.

Posted by: Jon Isaacs | Jun 6, 2005 11:08:01 AM

The PANDERING is to the UNION(S) OEA, etc. The kids are getting short schrift (86% of funding IS wages & benefits.||| 20%+ of district $$$ pays PERS!

The schools haven't been "cut"///I beleive their budget(s) funding will be increased!

Posted by: rrrinowatch | Jun 6, 2005 11:36:27 AM

Rep Merkley, My 3 year old daughter and I attended 'the show' on that day that the House Republicans didn't want to debate or to vote. It was my first visit to Salem, and I was so impressed by the House Dem's persistance, quoting of Rules of Order and multiple attempts to have the $5.4 number brought to a vote. I sent notes to my local Representative (Kitts (r)of House District 30) on the floor urging him to vote on the $5.4 and then urging him to vote on that day, not to stall until Aug 31, but he voted with the other R's. I met with him after the session broke for lunch, and he told me that the money isn't there (he didn't like any of my suggestions as to why the money could be there) and that the $5.4 won't ever happen. I came straight home, attended an event hosted by our school's PTA and handed out little strips of paper with his (and our senator's) phone numbers, and talking points that parents could use. I estimate that we equalled about twenty calls that weekend. I want to thank you, and to thank the other house dems for all of their hard work thus far, and I want to encourage you to keep the faith, to keep up the hard work and to keep fighting for stable, secure, adequate school funding. Our children deserve it! $5.4 isn't even enough, but it would be a good start! I will continue to work through my local PTA to send the message loud and clear to Salem that we need this funding.

Posted by: Corinne | Jun 6, 2005 12:30:13 PM


I hope that you're not arguing that you and you alone know what's necessary for the schools to function efficiently, and indeed, how to define good education.

If the Republicans did have the upper hand on the logic, and were sure of what was best for students and taxpayers, they would welcome debate in the open. Wouldn't that make for a healthy and useful dialogue?

One can only conclude that they are somehow afraid of "the disinfectant of daylight" as advocated by the late Justice Brandeis.

Again, when it comes to the state peeking into my bedroom, computer, library records, and general personal life, I hear that I shouldn't mind if I "have nothing to hide", but when it comes to doing the public's business in public there seem to be a lot of blushing virgins on the Right side of the aisle.

Alternatively, maybe they don't know the material that well outside of talking points cribbed from Grover Norquist and other alleged conservatives who have the single simplistic goal of dismantling the public sector enitrely.

Posted by: Pat Ryan | Jun 6, 2005 5:10:08 PM

Re: comment to rino///Rino stands for Republican in Name Only///EVERYTHING in the open///how 'bout another measure 30///out in the open///why not?///WHY WON'T THE D'S bring it back?///did only R's defeat it?///there's at least 4 RINO'S in the House///Get Westlund in the Senate & Dalto in the House to lead the way///C'mon!

Posted by: rrrinowatch | Jun 6, 2005 6:10:41 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.