After House Democrats failed last Wednesday to pass a $275 million tax increase, various interest groups faced a more real prospect of competing for scarce resources.
Yesterday, Oregon Education Association lead lobbyist Beth Anne Darby met with a coalition of human services groups to tamp down concerns that in the uncertainty about whether there will be additional revenue, the powerful K-12 lobby was pitting its might against other programs.
At issue was a lobby piece OEA, the Oregon School Boards Association and the Confederation of School Administrators circulated late last week. The document (below) showed what could happen if lawmakers pass a series of bills backed by the Oregon Education Investment Board, a group Gov. John Kitzhaber has asked to revamp the state's education system from early childhood, through K-12 and higher education.
Worst case scenario according to the document: The OEIB bills could cost up to 1,500 teaching positions, or the equivalent of seven days of school.
Here's the piece (PDF) the education groups put together:
Becca Uherbelau, a spokeswoman for OEA, says the document is not aimed at taking funding away from early childhood education, which is a central focus of Kitzhaber's, but rather just intended to illustrate some of the potential costs of the new initiatives.
"As a state, we want to do all these great things," Uherbelau says. "But we don't have enough money to do them."
She says Darby, the OEA lobbyist met with the Human Service Coalition to assuage fears that K-12 supporters were going to big-foot the budget. "We have never positioned education versus social services as competing priorities," Uherbelau says.
Andy Smith, a lobbyist for the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs and the co-chairman of the Human Services Coalition, says the coalition members appreciated Darby stopping by.
"We appreciated her coming by, because a lot of our work overlaps with education," Smith says. "We talked about how early childhood programs really are education. I thought it was a positive thing that she came."