Today’s Clips – February 9, 2011

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Wednesday! Schools across the state brace for the worst under Governor Kitzhaber’s public education budget, and school districts urge the state to allow them to opt out of "education service districts."

A forum at Portland State University about higher education restructuring draws a crowd, and concerns.

Legislators also discuss the budget, eliminating the Oregon Department of Energy, an overhaul of state court fees and banning the single-use plastic bag.

Public school funding

Straight talk on school funding
Forest Grove News Times
"Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s proposed budget for K-12 education, released last week, isn’t all that it seems. But neither is some of the criticism that greeted it. When viewed as one large number, the $2.9 billion Kitzhaber would allocate to public schools for 2011-12 is about the same as what the state is providing to districts this year. But citizens and their legislators have to look beyond the $2.9 billion before judging the adequacy of this funding level."

Schools brace for the worst under governor’s public education budget
Forest Grove News Times
"Some have dubbed the morning of Feb. 1, when newly re-minted Gov. John Kitzhaber proposed spending $5.56 billion on K-12 education over the next two years, ‘Black Tuesday.’ From state schools superintendent Susan Castillo, who says Kitzhaber’s budget falls about $1 billion short of what the public schools need, to anxious teachers in Gaston, Banks and Forest Grove, a rallying cry has gone out from Oregon’s campuses."

EDITORIAL: Don’t worry, governor
Register Guard
"Gov. John Kitzhaber won’t oppose the local taxes to support schools that are being discussed in Eugene and elsewhere in Oregon — but he’s not campaigning for them, either. He’s concerned that if some communities find ways to arrest the decline of public education, the push for a statewide school finance reform plan would lose steam. He needn’t worry."

School districts urge state to allow them to ‘opt-out’ of ESDs
Statesman Journal
"School districts could save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year if they were allowed to "opt out" of education service districts, superintendents from across the state told lawmakers Tuesday. ‘In a competitive environment, you can buy services that provide you with what you actually need,’ Baker School District Superintendent Walt Wegener told the Senate Education Committee."

Higher education restructuring forum
Portland State University forum draws crowd and concerns about restructuring the Oregon University System
"Faculty and students raised concerns at a Portland forum Tuesday afternoon about how legislative proposals to restructure the state’s higher education system will affect tuition, professor salaries and academic quality. ‘Are we going to become a factory that just pushes students out the door?’ asked Katie Markey, president of thePortland State University student body and member of a panel addressing proposals to change the governance structure of the Oregon University System."

Public forum addresses potential impact of higher education legislation
"Oregon’s state per-student funding ranks 45th in the country. But as Portland State University president Wim Wiewel put it at a forum Tuesday afternoon, the state ranks #1 in another area: micromanagement of its higher education system. Wiewel’s comments came at a public forum about the impact of legislative proposals to restructure Oregon’s higher education system."


Legislators talk budget at town hall
Siuslaw News
"Sales tax, education among topics at Saturday’s standing-room-only meeting in Florence. It’s the year of ‘firsts’ for the 2011 Oregon Legislature: first time the legislators are meeting annually; first time the House of Representatives has selected co-speakers; and first time the governor was elected to a third term."

Morse floats kicker reform
Gazette Times
"With a massive budget gap confronting the Legislature, Sen. Frank Morse thinks the time may finally be right to pass kicker reform and start setting aside some savings to cushion Oregon against the next recession. On Tuesday, the North Albany Republican introduced legislation that would do both. Senate Joint Resolution 26 would create a four-pronged mechanism designed to build cash reserves when times are good so there’s money available to fill the budget gaps when times are bad."

Lawmakers want to eliminate Oregon Department of Energy
"Some Oregon lawmakers want to pull the plug on the Oregon Department of Energy. The chief House sponsor of the bill to abolish the agency says the proposal is not a response to recent allegations of wrongdoing at the Department. Democratic Representative Jules Bailey wants to spin off much of the Oregon Department of Energy’s regulatory functions into other agencies. And he wants to fold its top-level strategic planning into the governor’s office."

Oregon House panel takes up — and sets aside for now — restructuring the Oregon Department of Energy
"A state House panel on Tuesday explored abolishing theOregon Department of Energy and redistributing its duties. Whether House Bill 2900 comes back for more than a public hearing is uncertain, but its introduction indicates both frustration with the agency and legislators’ willingness to re-think government."

Legislators consider overhaul of state’s court fees
Statesman Journal
"Lawmakers pledged Tuesday to review an overhaul of Oregon’s court fees for civil cases, a system that one lawmaker described as ‘unwieldy and rickety.’ But beneficiaries of the current system, among them legal aid services for the poor and law libraries for counties, urged the House Judiciary Committee to go slow on changes that will affect their shares of court fees."

Plastic bag ban debated

Plastic bag ban debated in Salem
Register Guard
"The manufacturers negatively affected by Oregon’s proposed plastic bag ban made it clear Tuesday that they’re not going down without a fight, sending in executives and lobbyists from out of state to testify against such a proposal. But their move was matched by a paper industry giant that dispatched its own executive to speak on the bill’s behalf."

Plastics industry steps up opposition to bag ban
Statesman Journal
"Opponents of a statewide ban on plastic checkout bags said Tuesday they will push for an alternative measure that would promote recycling and prohibit Oregon cities from banning plastic bags. The plastics industry stepped up its efforts to defend its product as the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee listened to arguments about the proposal."

Plastic bag ban debate: Green milestone for oregon or a new tax on groceries?
"Banning plastic checkout bags would either write another proud chapter in Oregon’s green heritage or create a costly and even potentially hazardous nuisance for consumers, state legislators heard Tuesday. Business lobbyists, environmental activists and taxpayer advocates packed a Senate committee hearing into the evening to present widely divergent views on what is shaping up as the top environmental issue of the session."

If Oregon bans plastic bags, a Beaverton paper sack plant has a handle on the situation
"You’d think it’s good times for the nation’s paper bag producers, what with plastic sacks on the run from environmentalists, politicians and picky shoppers. The bill pending in the Oregon Legislature to ban one-time-use plastic bags is an example of the heat generated in the ‘paper or plastic’ debate. But International Paper, which has a grocery sack manufacturing plant on Southwest Western Avenue in Beaverton, isn’t about to sit back and let the legislation ride."

Other headlines

Pressed for success: Self-employed by necessity, a divorced mother of two says failure isn’t an option
"’I’d been there 10 years and saw the signs,’ she said. ‘I was the one who shut down the classified department, got rid of the web editor and demoted the receptionist.’ In June, it was McKeown’s turn: She was laid off as general manager ofWillamette Week, a Portland alternative newspaper. As the divorced mother of two boys — Thilo, 7, and Cian, 5 — she needed to find something else. After months of planning, she opened a business, Oui Presse coffee shop on Portland’s Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard."

Working parents rally for help with child care costs
Public News Service
"Lower-income parents in Oregon are looking to state lawmakers to help them afford child care so they can keep their jobs. Advocates for these families will gather on Wednesday at noon at the State Capitol. The ‘Rally to Save Employment Related Daycare’ (ERDC) will focus on Gov. Kitzhaber’s recent proposal to increase the number of families in the program from 10,000 to 11,000."

Budget frills? What are Washington and Oregon buying that Idaho isn’t?
"Here’s an unusual sales pitch: ‘We don’t offer many bells and whistles.’ That’s how Idaho’s Republican Governor Butch Otter sells his state. He’s proud of a no-frills government. It’s a sharp contrast to Washington and Oregon with comparatively generous social services. So as all three states get ready to cut, what do Washington and Oregon offer that Idaho doesn’t?"

Why Oregon personal income limps behind the nation
Oregon Business Report
"Oregon’s per capita personal income, the annual sum of all resident income in the state divided by the number of residents, was $36,125 in 2009. That’s 8.8 percent less than the national figure of $39,626. Oregon’s per capita personal income gap with the nation has generally been growing since 1996 and the growing gap concerns state policy makers and economists. Although there are many causes of Oregon’s low PCPI, there are no easy solutions to reduce the gap."

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