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Session focused on improving education


It has been my honor to represent Woodburn, Brooks, Gervais and North Salem in the Oregon House of Representatives for the past 10 years. I’ve worked with many wonderful people in the legislature and in our community during that time. The 2014 legislative session ended on March 7, and we worked together to strengthen our schools, support small businesses and make government work better for Oregonians.

As a former teacher and school administrator, improving our schools is one of my top priorities. In 2013, the Legislature approved the largest K-12 education budget in state history. After years of disinvestment, we pushed for a strong budget to make sure schools and teachers start having the resources they need to prepare our students to compete in the global economy.

This session we created Summer Learning Grants (House Bill 4117) to fund programs that will add valuable learning time for more than 5,000 students at high-poverty schools. Two elementary schools in Salem, Highland and Hoover, are among 19 schools statewide that will qualify for summer learning grants thanks to this bill. We also increased access to summer meals for kids in need (HB 4090) because, as too many families know, hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation.

Within the first weeks of session, we learned that local revenue for K-12 schools is up by $98 million statewide for the 2014-15 school year. For Woodburn, Gervais and Salem-Keizer schools, that means an estimated $5 million funding increase.

We also focused on making higher education more affordable. The “Aspiration to College” bill (HB 4116) will support low-income and first-generation community college students by providing more trained counselors, and the “Oregon Promise” bill (Senate Bill 1524) will study whether it’s realistic to allow Oregon high school graduates to attend community colleges for free.

This session we also worked to create jobs and encourage innovation. Small businesses employ more than half the state’s work force and play a vital role in our economy. Accordingly, I helped expand access to capital for small businesses looking to grow and create jobs (SB 1563). I also supported a plan to modernize Oregon’s job training programs (SB 1566) to ensure the system is meeting workers’ and employers’ needs across the state.

I also supported a $200 million investment in bonding for the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Center. This investment will not only create construction jobs and high-wage medical jobs, but it will also make Oregon a leader in cancer research and increase support for public health in our nation and world.

Thank you to everyone who called, emailed or visited me in the Capitol this session — it is your voice that ensures the best legislation possible. I’d love to hear from you any time. Together we can build a stronger future for Oregon.