Gov. Brown signs Oregon’s new health care tax bill

Republicans may try to get this measure to the ballot in 2018

Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order aimed at expanding protections for immigrants in Oregon, February 2, 2017. (KOIN)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Democratic governor of Oregon has signed a contentious multimillion-dollar health care tax bill that’s designed to fund Medicaid and fill a big chunk of the state’s budget shortfall.

Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill allowing newly-approved taxes on health care providers Monday.

But whether the law goes into effect could still be up in the air as two House Republicans threaten to at least delay it by calling for a voter referendum on the measure.

Republican Reps. Julie Parrish and Cedric Hayden could file paperwork as early this week and would have until early October to collect the nearly 59,000 signatures needed to put the measure to a vote in November 2018.

House Democrats, in the meantime, are maneuvering to move the vote up to January 2018, should enough signatures be gathered.

Measure 98 funds for school dropout prevention cut in half

Oregon high school students may get $170 million over the next two school years to spend on career-technical education, college-prep and other programs designed to help pull graduation rates from the nation’s bottom ranks.

That’s a 42 percent-cut in funding to Measure 98 that voters approved in November and is among several programs and services being cut this week as lawmakers wrap up the 2017 session. The $170 million-allocation to Measure 98 moved out of committee Monday and now heads for a vote in the Senate.

Another proposal, House Bill 2246, allows students in the Oregon School for the Deaf and youth in juvenile corrections and detentions facilities to benefit from Measure 98 programs. It’s up this week for a vote in the House.