Kitzhaber Calls Oregon Legislators Back to Special Session

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has called legislators back to Salem for a special session beginning Monday, Sept. 30. On the agenda: an agreement between the governor and legislative leaders to increase school funding by $140 million.

The special session comes on the heels of last week’s Interim Legislative Days, when the Oregon Legislative Assembly reconvened in Salem for three days of “informational hearings” on legislation that passed in 2013. Interim Legislative Days are held in September and November in preparation for the 2014 legislative session.

Among the updates of interest to credit unions that were discussed last week:

  • Both the Senate General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee and the House Consumer Protection and Government Efficiency Committee held hearings on the new mortgage mediation law. Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 588A in June, modifying an existing law to require lenders to meet with borrowers regardless of whether they pursued foreclosure through the judicial process or through other means. The original 2012 version exempted court cases, which account for most foreclosure actions in Oregon. The Department of Justice updated the committee on how the process is going.
  • The Joint Interim Task Force on Oregon Elder Abuse met. It was created through the passage of HB 2205. According to the State of Oregon, state and local offices investigate more than 11,000 complaints of elder abuse or neglect each year. This abuse can occur both in care facilities and in the home. The 2011 Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2325, which created the Elder Abuse Work Group to study and make recommendations on elder abuse issues.

The goal of the special session that starts Monday is to increase education funding by $140 million to restore lost school days and provide tuition relief for Oregon students this school year. The agreement reached by Kitzhaber and legislative leaders combines cost savings from additional PERS reforms and new revenue to fund education, mental health and senior services; it also provides targeted tax relief for small-business owners and working families.

Kitzhaber wants legislators to act on the framework in time for schools to use the funds this year. Elements of the agreement framework include:

INVESTMENTS ($211 million in 2013-2015) 

  • Boosts school funding: $100 million in new revenue for K-12;
  • Reinvests in higher education: $40 million for community college & university tuition relief;
  • Supports working families: $12-million expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (from Ending Fund Balance beginning Jan. 1, 2014);
  • Dedicates funding for mental health: $20 million dedicated from 10-cent cigarette tax;
  • Supports Oregon’s seniors: $41 million for senior programs.

PERS

  • Improves the financial stability of PERS: $4.6 billion in overall reduction of the unfunded actuarial liability when combined with SB 822, with further adjustments to the PERS COLA’
  • Reduces 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;
  • Includes 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).

 

Questions? Contact Gary Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News.