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Kitzhaber pitches education budget at Business Leadership Summit

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber strongly defended his proposed education budget for the next two years before the Business Leadership Summit on Tuesday.

Kitzhaber said the budget he submitted to the 2015 Oregon Legislature substantially increases spending on education, taking up 50 percent of the general fund dollars that are projected to increase by $800 million over the 2011-2013 budget.

And Kitzhaber said he has focused much of the increase on two important initiatives -- preparing nearly all third graders to read at grade level and connecting education to careers.

"This will affect real people, it's not just numbers of paper," Kitzhaber said.

Neverthtless, Kitzhaber said his proposed budget has been criticized by some within the education system for not dedicating more money to their sectors of it. Kitzhaber said this reaction is short-sighted because simply increasing funding for each silo will not necessary serve students the best.

"If the debate is simply about maximizing silo funding, our reform efforts will fail," said Kitzhaber, referring to his 40/40/20 plan to prepare all students to go to college or qualify for a good paying job.

The summit is the annual gathering held by the Oregon Business Council to discuss their legislative agenda called the Oregon Business Plan. It drew thousands of business and government leaders to the Oregon Convention Center, including legislative leaders and most of the Portland City Council.

Those attending the summit gave Kitzhaber a standing ovation when he was introduced. He is scheduled to deliver the keynote address later in the day.

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