Lawmakers make trip home, talk schools
April 17, 2005
By DOUG HIGGS
As it is in Salem,
so it is in Klamath Falls when it comes to the
state budget: Questions about school finance are
The area's three
legislators came home for a town hall meeting on
Saturday afternoon at the Klamath County
The talk turned
quickly to the debate about how much the state
will supply to local school districts over the
next two years.
said that, even at best, aid to schools will not
meet all of the needs, and the Republicans and
Democrats in the Legislature have not reached an
agreement on how much to give elementary and
"We're about $150
million apart," said Rep. Bill Garrard, one of
the three Republican legislators from the area.
Garrard said the
Democrats want to give education about $150
million more than the Republicans, who are
unwilling to reduce funding for other programs
to that extent.
"We're facing the
same old questions and the same old problems so
far as funding education is concerned," he said.
difficulty legislators face is the increase in
costs for employee benefits, said Sen. Doug
"The escalation in
health care costs; that's unbelievable," said
Rep. George Gilman, who represents northern
Klamath County as part of his central Oregon
"We're not going to
raise taxes," he said. "We're just not going to
do it. We know the people of Oregon are not in
the mood to pay more taxes."
Even when the topic
was appropriations for something else, schools
got into the act.
executive director of Klamath Basin Senior
Citizens, said state funding for senior citizens
has been cut for the last four years, and
there's not enough money to meet all of the
requests for the Meals on Wheels program.
When education gets
more, the senior citizens get less, he said.
"I love kids - I've
got six of them. But this is a heck of a way to
treat the senior population," O'Brien said.
"This has got to stop."
On a non-finance
issue, Gilman said the Legislature made a
mistake in the new laws related to vehicle speed
limits in school zones that went into effect
He said the
Legislature will change them this time around.
The main change will be 20 mph limit from 7 a.m.
to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday unless there's a
flashing light. In that instance, the flashing
light will take precedence, he said.
The new speed limit
will not be in effect during the summer when
regular classes are not held, he said.
Klamath Falls City
Council member Bud Hart contended that a
statement in a Herald and News editorial on
Wednesday was inaccurate. The statement was "The
Legislature passed a bill several years ago that
allows the city to keep secret its agreement
Hart said the
agreement with PPM Energy is available to been
seen at Klamath Falls City Hall upon request and
copies of it are available for a fee.