Kate Brown pitches $23.6 billion budget plan

Kate Brown pitches $23.6 billion budget plan

Gov. Kate Brown issued her policy and fiscal agenda for the next two years on Wednesday, saying she will focus over the next six months on negotiating a massive tax increase to improve public schools.

“How our state provides for the needs of our children is a marker of who we are as a community,” Brown said. “After years of underinvestment, it will take more than just additional funding to bring our schools back to a level Oregonians can be proud of. Our education system is in desperate need of repair, reform and reinvestment.”

She said it would take more than $2 billion to both improve K-12 schools and cover their soaring public pension rates plus prevent cuts to higher education that Brown included in her budget. But she declined to offer any specific proposals for how state lawmakers could raise such a staggering amount of money, let alone secure voter approval for big tax hikes. She is counting on business leaders, employee unions and lawmakers to reach consensus, knowing how much parents and the public want improved school outcomes.

Since taking office in early 2015, Brown has not pursued any sweeping, long-range policy changes, and the governor faced criticism that she lacked a vision for Oregon’s future. Brown made clear on Tuesday that her two top policy goals directly speak to her goals for the years ahead: prepare children to succeed and rein in greenhouse gas emissions to limit changes to the climate in which those children will grow up.

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