SALEM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — With the state’s economy looking better than expected — meaning more income tax rebates — a big question is, where else could the money go?
Oregon legislators have already planned to give over $7 billion to public schools and colleges, but there is a new debate over whether or not the “kicker” could be used to further fund education.
Gaston School Superintendent Susy Mckenzie told KOIN 6 News, there is no question her district needs more money. She said the “kicker” money could help her small, 600-student district in several different ways.
“Our facilities are aging and are in dire need of repair and there’s been no money to be able to take care of that kind of stuff,” Mckenzie said.
Bigger school districts, including Beaverton School District, have a local option levy underway — it will secure an extra $20 million a year to pay for more teachers and, in turn, lower class sizes.
“Our students’ research is pretty evident, we have our students attending school one year less than their counterparts in the United States,” Maureen Wheeler with Beaverton School District told KOIN 6 News. “One year less because of investments, yes.”
In 2012, Oregonians passed a ballot measure to send the “kicker” money to schools instead of businesses. This session, lawmakers will debate a bill to send the rest of the “kicker” money to schools, instead of back to taxpayers.
The next revenue forecast is scheduled for May. That is when the state will know if there actually is a “kicker”.