Backers of Oregon’s high school improvement initiative are concerned the measure might not get funded.
Measure 98 intends to dedicate nearly $150 million a year to dropout prevention, career training and college prep classes. It passed with 66 percent of the vote.
The measure’s language includes a funding trigger: $800 per high school student is supposed to fill a grant fund for school districts, so long as there is an increase of at least $1.5 billion over the current biennium.
But it’s a statutory change, rather than a constitutional amendment, so legislators and the governor could make changes.
That’s why the measure’s backers — Stand For Children — are circulating a petition and emailing supporters, aimed at ensuring the measure is funded.
The group’s petition targets Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. She supported the measure as she was running for office, and she is in the process of finalizing her proposed budget.
Here’s how the petition’s language appears in sponsored ads on Facebook:
“Oregon voters chose overwhelmingly to restore career technical education to our high schools and improve our state’s dismal high school graduation rate. To make sure Measure 98 is fully implemented, we need our leaders in Salem to step up, starting with our governor. Governor Kate Brown supported the measure during her re-election campaign – now she should fully fund it in her upcoming budget. Sign our petition TODAY and tell Governor Kate Brown to honor the will of the voters.”
Stand For Children director Toya Fick says she has gotten “good signals,” but no firm commitment on funding the measure. The governor’s office does not typically share spending plans before the full release of the budget, expected Dec. 1.
Earlier this week, the Oregon Department of Education released a three-page memo outlining how state officials would implement Measure 98.
With the defeat of the corporate tax initiative Measure 97, Oregon lawmakers will not have a large influx of revenue. Lawmakers and school board members are anticipating budget difficulties, however, based on rising costs.
Fick acknowledges rising budget costs, but said the revenue forecasts show enough money for Measure 98 without touching direct spending on public schools.