Legislators propose big increase in K-12 budget

A significant increase in the K-12 education budget has been proposed by a legislative committee that also seeks some reforms in the Public Employee Retirement System.

The Joint Ways and Means Committee, co-chaired by Rep. Peter Buckley, an Ashland Democrat, and Sen. Richard Devlin, a Tualitin Democrat, has proposed a $6.75 billion biennial education budget, about $700 million higher than Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposal.

Buckley and Devlin are seeking $200 million in PERS reform as part of their budget package.

"That's a big deal," said Alex Pulaski, a spokesman for the Oregon School Boards Association. "That's a nice figure that will help children and schools throughout the state."

Schools are struggling under the weight of paying for PERS pensions even with the governor's proposed budget, which is higher than the $5.75 billion in the 2011-13 budget.

The Medford School District anticipated making $3 million in cuts because of increasing pension liabilities.

— Damian Mann

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