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|Tuesday, May 31, 2011|
BY PATRICK EMERSON
This is, by almost any measure, the worst economic recession since the great depression. The recession has hit Oregon public schools particularly hard, given their dependence on the state's general fund and the general fund's dependence on income taxes. Because of the volatile nature of education funding in the state, the Education Stability Fund (ESF) was created to help cushion the blow to schools from economic downturns.
Given all that, why are legislators so reticent to spend all of the ESF? Why create a fund you are reluctant to use at the very moment it was designed for? Here is The Oregonian's Kimberly Melton on recent developments in the state legislature:
I honestly don't understand the thinking behind not spending all you can. Research shows that temporary disruptions, such as large classes, even for just a year or two have long lasting impacts on student performance. The economy is recovering (albeit painfully slowly) so it is unlikely we'll need the ESF in the near future - but students are suffering now.
The state's Education Stability Fund is intended to help buffer schools during an economic recession. Three-fifths of each legislative chamber must approve any action to remove any of that money -- expected to grow to $300 million over the next two years. State legislators can tap the fund only in times of economic crisis or if the governor declares an emergency. As the state revenue forecasts begin to improve, some advocates fear that lawmakers will not be able to make those funds available during next year's session, as they originally intended.
"I think everyone can agree that there's at least $56 million available for K-12," said Democratic Majority leader Dave Hunt. "It's in the Education Stability Fund. Do we leave it under a mattress or invest it in our kids? I think that's an easy choice."
Indeed, but why only $56 million?
Economist Patrick Emerson is the author of the Oregon Economics Blog.
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Oregon Sick Leave is here, and changes to the federal white-collar worker regulations are on the way. This workshop will prepare you for both. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to start planning now for the future impact on your operations and finances.
Presented by OEN + CENTRL + YESpdx.
This Roundtable will cover numerous issues under the employer "shared responsibility" rules of the Affordable Care Act, including how to track the "full-time" status of variable-hour employees, temporary or seasonal employees, and employees who experience a change in status or a break in service. Additionally, we will provide a brief overview of Code sections 6055 and 6056, which require most mid-sized and large employers to submit their first information reports to the IRS in early 2016 regarding the health insurance coverage being offered to employees. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to prepare for the future impact of the shared responsibility rules on your operations and finances.