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Kitzhaber: Agreement reached for Sept. 30 special session

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Wednesday that he and legislative leaders have agreed on a framework to boost education funding by $140 million.

Kitzhaber will call the Oregon Legislature to special session on Sept. 30 to approve the bills necessary to secure the money.

According to a press release from Kitzhaber's office, the funding will restore lost school days and provide tuition relief for Oregon students this school year.

“This is the Oregon way,” Kitzhaber said. “I applaud my legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle for once again coming together for the benefit of all Oregonians. This framework offers a balanced approach that will allow for a sustained reinvestment in Oregon education and other critical services, like mental health, over the long term. We’re delivering for Oregon’s children, for Oregon’s economy, for Oregon’s future.”

Legislative leaders issued a statement saying they have not yet secured all the votes needed to approve the agreement.

“After a lot of hard work and compromise we have arrived at a framework to present to our colleagues. We have made progress and we are moving forward. We all have much invested in this effort to strengthen Oregon’s future," said the statement issued by Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem), House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), and House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte).

“There is still hard work ahead to determine whether we have the votes from each caucus needed in order to pass this proposal, but we are making progress,” the statement continued.

The agreement combines cost savings from additional Public Employee Retirement System reforms and new revenue to fund education, mental health and senior services, and targeted tax relief for small business owners and working families, the release says.

The release itemized the following elements of the framework agreement:

INVESTMENTS 2013-15 - $211 million

• Boost School Funding - $100 million in new revenue for K-12.

• Reinvest in Higher Education - $40 million for community college & university tuition relief.

• Support Working Families - $12 million expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (from Ending Fund Balance beginning January 1, 2014).

• Dedicated Funding for Mental Health - $20 million dedicated from 10 cent cigarette tax

Supports Oregon’s Seniors - $41 million for senior programs.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT SYSTEM

• Improve the Financial Stability of PERS - $4.6 billion in overall reduction of the unfunded actuarial liability when combined with SB 822 approved by the 2013 Oregon Legislature with further adjustments to the PERS Cost of Living Adjustments.

• Reduce PERS COLA while mitigating impacts on lower-wage workers.

• Additional PERS transparency and confidence building measures.

REVENUE - 2013-15

• $244 million in new revenue for 2013-15 biennium.

• Include Small and Family Business Tax Relief by lowering rate on pass-through business active income, and a Fair Trade Tax Treatment for certain agricultural exporters (2013-15 phase-in totaling $43 million).

OTHER PROVISIONS

• Allow consideration of statewide Genetically Modified Organism policy to preempt local bans except in counties where local ordinances have already qualified for elections. The Governor will convene a work group to address GMOs at the state level.

• The Governor will issue a letter stating he will sign none of the bills unless all bills make it to his desk.

Construction of an Oregon-led Columbia River Crossing project could also be considered.

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