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The Speaker’s so-called “Stable Schools Plan” is the “unkindest cut of all"


You remember the story from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Mark Antony finished his eulogy for the murdered Julius Caesar by jumping from the pulpit to the side of the slain Roman leader. He pointed to the wound that Brutus’ dagger made. He reminded the crowd that Brutus was Caesar’s friend and fellow Roman, a man who Caesar trusted most of all. “This was the unkindest cut of all,” Mark Antony delclared.

Oregon’s K-12 schools have suffered a savaging of cuts. You’ve seen them in your community—the loss of arts, music, sport programs. You’ve endured ever-higher fees for extracurricular activities. You’ve seen the end of Outdoor School and foreign language classes. You’ve seen first-grade classes with 34 students, the firing of counselors and a four-day school week.

But the Speaker’s so-called “Stable Schools Plan,” which is actually the “Cap and Cut Plan,” is the unkindest cut of all to Oregon’s schools. And make no mistake—it’s a cut. If this bill had been in place over the past 10 years, it would have reduced school spending by $2.6 billion dollars.

I don’t understand why anyone would want to cap funding for schools. If you’re spending too much on something, then put a cap on it. If you’re spending too little on an important program, however, the last thing want to do you is cap it.

Does anyone seriously believe that Oregon has spent too much on schools over the past ten years, or that we’re spending too much now? I doubt that anyone name a legislator who ran for office and said to the voters, “It’s a good thing that we can no longer afford arts, music, gym, counselors, full school years and decent class sizes. I intend to make sure that we can never afford them in the future.”

In other states, the political leaders acknowledge that schools are critical for the children and the economy. In other states, the leaders take action to make sure that schools thrive. In other states, the legislatures believe schools are so important that they have established funding floors to protect education from downturns in the economy.

But the Speaker’s bill says we see it differently here in Oregon. Our shortened and stripped school programs are just fine, and the Speaker wants to make sure that it stays that way.

Her bill tells every parent, every child and every business that they can quit fighting for decent schools, let alone great schools. Our schools already have too much, and the legislature should cut and cap their budgets.

Mark Antony said that Brutus’ blow to Caesar was the “unkindest cut of all.”

This bill is clearly the unkindest cut of all the wounds inflicted on our schools over the past decade, because it cuts more than financial resources. It cuts hope out of the heart of every student and parent who aspires to a great education.

In the meantime, we must count on the state Senate to stop this cynical, damaging bill in its tracks.

July 1, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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Permalink: The Speaker’s so-called “Stable Schools Plan” is the “unkindest cut of all"


Mr Merkley:

As the experience of California shows, once the population of a state withdraws its support for schools, there is no minimum below which the state legislature will not go in "savaging," as you term it, public school funding.

I really doubt that it's up to the Senate of the State of Oregon to save the reasonable funding of our public schools.

It is up to the voters of the state.

Posted by: Michael Meo | Jul 1, 2005 9:22:56 PM

As much as I'm upset about the condition of our schools, my guilt is tempered slightly by the fact that school funding has continued to rise, though certainly slowly this session. Shame on PERS and rising healthcare costs for driving our personnel costs up so far at the expense of our children. Shame on our legislators' inability to accomplish PERS reform, centralize healthcare purchasing for educators in the state, etc.

Posted by: Gordie | Jul 6, 2005 3:13:24 AM


Thanks for your comments. A couple of points:

1. School spending has not continued to rise overall in comparison to inflation and total state spending. We are now 31st in the nation in per student spending, falling steadily, and the percentage of general fund money going to K-12 is decreasing, not increasing.

2. PERS is a huge problem. But even with PERS, we are 31st in spending per student. We can and should do better without waiting for the PERS cure to somehow be discovered. It's not our kids' fault that the system has been allowed to develop the way it has. As for the health care pool, it does show promise of savings, but nothing at the level that would have the kind of impact needed to change our status of having the shortest school year and some of the largest class sizes in the nation.

I don't feel guilt or shame--I fall more into the anger catagory. We have solid, innovative ideas to address education funding and overall revenue, yet our proposals are not even given a hearing in the Republican led House. When we move into the majority, Oregon schools will have a chance again. Not until.

Posted by: Rep. Peter Buckley | Jul 6, 2005 6:12:17 AM

Quit blaming the R's---

The D's are running the Senate & (middle office zzzzz) REMEMBER?

(The D's block plenty of stuff in the Senate!!!)


Posted by: brevityohyeah | Jul 6, 2005 8:00:41 AM

Rep. Buckley:

Oregon is 31st in per student spending. Oregon is 36th in per-capita income which indicates that Oregon is funding K-12 at a better level than public education special interests admit.

Health Care and PERS costs are growing well in excess of inflation. To keep up with those costs, directly benefiting employees, school school districts have to make reductions in other areas.

Currently, Portland District 1J spends over 80% of its general funds budget on employee wages and benefits. I have a hunch that ratio has risen by at least 10% in the last 10 years.


Posted by: gus | Jul 6, 2005 10:26:40 AM


All revenue bills must originate in the House, it's in the Constitution. The R's have devestated Oregon with their financial mismanagement over the last decade plus, since they have had an effective veto power over our state budget. When we regain the majority, Oregon will begin to thrive again.

Gus--personnel costs make up the vast majority of expenditures for every school district nationwide. Do we need to tackle PERS and health care? You bet. But even with PERS and health care increases, we're not funding at the level we did a decade ago. I'm open for all debates--both cost cutting and revenue increases. Are you?

Posted by: Rep. Peter Buckley | Jul 6, 2005 10:19:17 PM

It's so comforting to know that "when we regain the majority, Oregon will begin to thrive again."

"We" now hold EVERY STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICE, INCLUDING THE BULLY PULPIT, zzzzzz, center office, zzzzz, and yet the R's have devasted Oregon.(I know, he awoke briefly from his NAPzzzzz, yesterday....nite-nite zzzzzzzz

My dear man, Oregon citizens, VOTERS, have told you NO to higher taxes!

The D's and the RINO's have tried to shove it down our throats.

Don't blame the R's w/ot having the GUTS to blame the voters!

BTW, did M's 28 or 30 pass in your district? hmmmm

Posted by: brevityohyeah | Jul 7, 2005 7:19:24 AM

regret spelling errors above: devastated
(devastated to be w/out spell checker)

Posted by: brevityohyeah | Jul 7, 2005 9:39:45 AM

Oregon is 31st in per student spending. Oregon is 36th in per-capita income which indicates that Oregon is funding K-12 at a better level than public education special interests admit.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Oregon ranks 28th in terms of median household income:

Source: http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/income03/statemhi.html

According to a 2002 report by the Oregon School Board Association, funding for K-12 failed to keep pace with inflation and did not keep pace with growth in personal income from 1991 - 2001.

During that period of time, expenditures per fall enrollee in public schools increased by 46 percent compared to an 88 percent increase in expenditures per fall enrollee in private elementary and high schools.

Source: http://www.osba.org/hotopics/funding/2002/analysis/final.pdf

Posted by: salvador | Jul 7, 2005 10:20:21 AM


As a matter of fact, both 28 and 30 did indeed pass in my district, by wide margins. I'm very proud to represent Ashland/Talent/Phoenix/Jacksonville. We are willing to invest in our kids and our state. If every other district joined with us, Oregon would be much the better for it.

And Salvador--thanks for that info.

Posted by: Rep. Peter Buckley | Jul 7, 2005 9:24:19 PM

Never ask questions w/out knowing answer.
Sure you're PROUD of your district passing 28 & 30
Bait taken----

Just goes to show how TAX increases make you "proud".

Buckley, "proud" to raise taxes.
(Can just imagine that one used in campiagn next year)

Probably never met one (tax) you weren't "Proud" of...right?
(I don't know the answer)

Posted by: brevityohyeah | Jul 8, 2005 6:15:07 AM


Yep. I'm proud to say that I campaigned for both Measure 28 and Measure 30. You can try to twist that into "proud of raising taxes" if you want, since that seems to be kind of cheap political tactic used by people who can't defend their positions on the issues. I campaigned in 2004 on a platform that called for increases in revenue, and I will do the same in 2006. You may find it acceptable to have our schools continue to struggle, our seniors and disabled go without care they need, and our state police and justice system remain underfunded. I don't.

I'm proud of my district, proud that we care enough to put our money where our mouths are.

Posted by: Rep. Peter Buckley | Jul 8, 2005 6:53:54 AM

Glad you're "proud" and in the MINORITY!

Statewide you are in the MINORITY!
Thank God..............

Posted by: brevityohyeah | Jul 8, 2005 7:10:36 AM

And welcome to the playground. Nya nya nya.

Peter - keep up the good fight - the voters of south Jackson County will return you time and again and slowly, as Senator Byrd reminds, "the worm will turn."

Meantime, brevityohyeah reminds us the rules of the current debate - facts are to be met with derision, legitimate proposal with dismissive scorn. And thus was the state made great. Or somesuch malarky.

Posted by: John Doty | Jul 8, 2005 11:38:12 AM

glad to see you're on 1st name basis w/_______

you guys never deride or scorn--right?


Posted by: brevityohyeah | Jul 8, 2005 11:54:54 AM

After a long sequence of scornful, derisive posts, brevityohyeah, you respond, to those who point out a lack of argumentation, that somewhere others beside you have been scornful.

And even that logically irrelevent rhetorical move is made in a dismissive manner.

Posted by: Michael Meo | Jul 8, 2005 10:57:51 PM

MM, Say what? Scornful, derisive?

Put another m28/m30/ or repeal m36/ on the ballot and then we'll talk.

Just callin' it like it is big guy.

Posted by: Brevityohyeah | Jul 9, 2005 2:30:26 PM

Buckley, MM, JD, Anyone care to discuss BRANKRUPTCY?


Front page picture: Their TANNED, FIT, & RELAXED and you folks want to discuss more $$$ for schools? (Stupid to pose for this pic)

Posted by: brevityohyeah | Jul 10, 2005 9:52:43 AM

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