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    Training the Next Generation of Leaders

    As a legislator and as a mother, one of my biggest priorities is teaching and inspiring young people to become leaders that will continue to move our country forward. That’s why I’m so proud of the progress being made by the young people that sit on the House District 38 Student Leadership Cabinet. Since the application deadline closed, my staff and I gave the Cabinet a crash course in the legislative process and assigned each member a specific bill on which to prepare a policy brief. The assignment was to do research, and prepare a written report and spoken presentation for our office that spoke to the background, pros, and cons of their bill.

    This last week, five Cabinet members also came to the Capitol to intern in my office. They attended committee meetings, helped with legislative tasks, and did in-office work on their policy briefs. The Student Leadership Cabinet will meet again in the next few weeks to present their briefs to my staff and I, and will continue to come to Salem to intern throughout the rest of the legislative session. These young leaders are doing great work, and I’m glad to have them on my team.slc

    Meeting with the Student Leadership Cabinet at Riverdale High School

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    Starting Strong in the New School Year

    As a family with kids in school, our New Year begins in September. Every fall, each member of our family identifies key priorities for the coming year. As your state representative, I am doing the same thing.

    This year, I will continue to work hard, as I always have, to defend reproductive freedom, prevent gun violence and protect our clean air and water. I will also emphasize three key goals: increasing economic opportunity, strengthening our public schools and forging bipartisan solutions.

    Today I published a guest opinion about these goals in the Lake Oswego Review. Please read it and then get in touch with your ideas about how we can work together to make our state as strong as it can be. You can email me anytime at ann@annlininger.org.

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    Summer Learning for All of Our Kids

    This week lots of our kids attend school for the last day this school year. This is great news for some families, but for many, it begins a tough season of piecing together childcare and trying to avoid the slide in reading and math skills that happens for vulnerable kids. According to a recent New York Times article, “most kids lose math skills over the summer, but low-income children also lose, on average, more than two months of reading skills — and they don’t gain them back. That puts them nearly three years behind higher income peers by the end of fifth grade, and the gap just keeps getting wider.”    

    Support for summer learning programs can help parents stay employed, help young people enjoy a change of pace from the regular school year, and helps children of all backgrounds return to school ready to succeed. 

    I remember doing the National Youth Sports Program in southern Oregon as a kid. It helped us build skills and kept us out of trouble. I look forward to working with colleagues, educators and parents to support summer learning for Oregon kids.

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    Students learning about history during a field trip to Phillip Forster Farm in Eagle Creek, OR.

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    Back-To-School

    Our kids are back in school, and lots of you have asked about the progress Oregon is making to strengthen our public schools. I have created a K-12 issue primer to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the Legislature. It identifies key bills we passed last session, provides detail on the 2015-17 budget for schools, and covers some other hot topics in education.

    Last session the Oregon Legislature made historic investments in our K-12 schools and higher education system. The approved budget will help us add instructional time, hire back teachers and staff, and better prepare young people for the future. There is more work to do, but this is a step in the right direction.

    Please take a look at my education primer. Also, please join us for a town hall on education and other issues this Thursday, Oct. 8th, 6 p.m. at Lake Oswego City Hall.

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    Session Highlights

    The 2015 legislative session just ended, and we made good progress on our priorities. Here are some of the highlights, plus links to key bills we passed:

    Strengthening Education

    We took important steps to improve Oregon’s education system by

    • Making historically large investments in early learning, our K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities (HB 5016, HB 5017, HB 5024, SB 5507)
    • Supporting career and technical training and science and math education (CTE-STEM) so students can prepare for good jobs (HB 3072, HB 5016, SB 81)
    • Helping students who learn at an accelerated pace access appropriate challenges and earn college credit (SB 418)
    • Ensuring that students can afford lunch so they can focus on learning at school (HB 2545)
    • Protecting the confidentiality of student data so companies do not buy and sell it (HB 2715, SB 187)
    • Helping school districts identify students with dyslexia so schools can ensure these students’ success (SB 612)

    Helping Workers and Businesses Thrive

    We all want Oregonians to be able to provide for their families and enjoy the dignity of having a job. This session the Legislature advanced these goals by

    • Helping low-income people access child care so they can work, and by easing the financial cliff that hurts some people when they get a job (HB 2015, HB 2171)
    • Enabling workers to take time off to care for a sick child or recover from illness (SB 454)
    • Helping Oregonians save for retirement (HB 2960)
    • Adopting targeted incentives to spur job growth in the clean energy, food production equipment, and film sectors (HB 2941 and HB 3125)
    • Clarifying tax policy so Oregon can attract and retain technology jobs (SB 611)
    • Supporting transportation investments – this is a good step, but we need a robust transportation package (HB 5030, HB 5040)
    • Creating clear rules for the cannabis sector to help create good jobs, protect safety, and appropriately regulate this $1 billion/year market (HB 3400, HB 2041, SB 460, SB 844, and SJR 12)

    Protecting our Environment

    We took steps to protect Oregon’s environment this session by

    • Requiring a phase-out of toxic chemicals from children’s products (SB 478)
    • Improving Oregon’s pesticide spray laws to better protect people and drinking water – we have more work to do here, but this is progress (HB 3549)
    • Supporting expansion of our clean energy economy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (SB 324)
    • Encouraging cleanup and re-use of brownfield properties (HB 2734)

    Helping Vulnerable People

    We are helping keep vulnerable Oregonians safe and secure by

      • Supporting creation of affordable apartments and preserving the ones we have (HB 2629, SB 5506, HB 2198)
      • Enabling survivors of sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence to obtain confidential help and protective orders (HB 3476 and HB 2628)
      • Keeping guns away from domestic violence perpetrators and other dangerous people (SB 525, SB 941)
      • Enabling women to obtain a year’s supply of birth control so they can avoid unintended pregnancy (HB 3343)

    Strengthening our Justice System

    After tragic events around the country, we worked to ensure our justice system is fair for all Oregonians by

    • Preventing unfair profiling by police of people of color (HB 2002)
    • Creating a framework for communities to require on-duty law enforcement officials to wear body cameras (HB 2571)
    • Allowing community members to record the conduct of on-duty police officers (HB 2704)
    • Reclassifying marijuana offenses and helping people expunge offenses for conduct that is no longer illegal (HB 3400, SB 844)

    Improving Government Effectiveness

    We are helping our government operate more fairly and efficiently by

    • Improving information that lawmakers and the public receive about tax credits before creating or expanding tax credits so we can use credits wisely (HB 3542).
    • Streamlining the process to access social services to improve efficiency and reduce costs (HB 2219)
    • Requiring the Legislature to hold hearings around Oregon to ensure the redistricting process is conducted in a fair and reasonable manner (HB 2974)
    • Helping Oregonians register to vote so they can help shape a strong future for our state (HB 2177)

    We accomplished a lot this legislative session, but there is more left to do. Please reach out to our office over the interim about issues that are important to you so we can work together to address them. Thanks.

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    Members of the Committee to Implement Measure 91 (Rep. Peter Buckley, Rep. Carl Wilson, Rep. Andy Olsen, and Rep. Ken Helm) marking the close of our 2015 Legislative Session, with photo bomb by Rep. John Davis

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    The forecast for our schools

    One week ago, the May Economic and Revenue Forecast brought some good news. Our state’s economy continues to improve, driven by new jobs and wage growth. That means the state will be able to invest another $105 million in our public K-12 classrooms. We will also be able to fill some holes in our public safety and human services budgets and save for tough times in the future.

    At the end of April, however, we received some challenging budget news. The Oregon Supreme Court struck down a 2013 change to the PERS system. Whatever your thoughts on PERS or the 2013 legislation, this decision will increase the cost of operating the state’s schools and state agencies by hundreds of millions of dollars.

    As a parent and legislator, one of my top goals is to strengthen Oregon’s public schools. These two recent events highlight the challenge facing education in our state.

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    Despite years of cuts, our state continues to struggle with inadequate school funding. Oregon’s K-12 students receive almost three weeks less instructional time than the national average. Between 2007-8 and 2013-14, public schools cut over 3,000 teachers and 1,000 instructional assistants. We lost around half of the state’s career and technical education programs. Some of our schools also have very large class sizes.

    Oregon students deserve better. It’s time for us to increase school funding so Oregon students can prepare for good jobs and bright futures. To do that we need to:

    • Devote a larger share of the May revenue forecast resources to K-12 education;
    • Scrutinize tax credits and new spending programs and make the tough choices to not fund some new programs or ideas; and
    • Look seriously at new revenue sources

    Right now Oregon has the nation’s lowest corporate tax rate.  If the Oregon rate was “average,” our schools, police, and safety net service providers would have the resources they need.  And this year we will be sending back over $450 million in kicker revenue, mostly to high income Oregonians.

    Revenue conversations are tough, but we need to think through how we can move toward stronger schools and services in the future. I look forward to having that conversation in the coming year.

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    Three Steps to Better School Funding

    Today the House Revenue Committee recommended passage of House Bill 2070, as amended. HB 2070 is one of two bills that would increase funding available for schools by reforming “Gain Share,” a program that sends bonus tax revenue to some counties. Increasing school funding is important to Oregon’s economic strength and to our kids’ futures.

    I recently authored an article that identifies three steps to increase school funding.

    Here are the key steps we need to take:

    1. Prioritize education funding as we allocate the state’s remaining resources. It costs around $22 million to pay for a day of school in Oregon. As the legislature considers funding other programs or projects this legislative session, we must weigh the value of those investments against the value of funding more instructional time and smaller class sizes.
    2. Scrutinize proposals to expand tax breaks. Recently we have heard proposals to the House Revenue Committee for tax breaks to incentivize research and development, energy efficiency investments, and business equipment purchases. The money Oregon foregoes due to tax breaks is money we cannot spend on core services like education. Legislators must carefully assess the tax breaks we provide to make sure they are worth the cost.
    3. Consider new revenue sources. We need to rethink the personal kicker. It seems unwise to refund $350 million at a time when Oregon cannot afford enough instructional time or teachers. We need to explore this and other potential sources of revenue, such a e-cigarette and cigar taxes, closing the zero-tax loophole, and addressing offshore tax havens.
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    Supporting Survivors

    Yesterday was an important day for survivors of sexual assault and for Oregon’s college students. The Oregon Alliance to End Violence Against Women hosted a Survivor Safety Rally on the Capitol’s front steps. We rallied in support of House Bill 3476, heard later in the day before the House Judiciary Committee.
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    House Bill 3476 would protect the privacy and confidentiality of sexual assault and domestic violence victims who seek counseling and support services, including on college campuses. Oregonians understand we need to do something to reduce sexual violence in our state, including on our college campuses.

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    A key reason survivors do not come forward or get help is fear that their painful, personal stories will become public without their consent. House Bill 3476 would protect survivor-advocate confidentially. During the hearing on HB 3476 we heard powerful testimony from victims, advocates, and law enforcement in support of the bill.
    Click here to watch the hearing.

    Many thanks to everyone who contributed to yesterday’s important activities.

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    Sunlight is the best disinfectant

    At yesterday’s House Revenue Committee meeting we heard testimony on House Bill 2077, which would shine a light on corporate income tax information so we can understand the taxes these companies pay and the subsidies Oregon gives them to operate in our state. Witnesses raised important questions about whether Oregonians are getting their money’s worth from tax breaks the state provides given the key need for investment in things like strong public schools. I, for one, think a strong public education system is the best economic development investment that Oregon can make. I want to make sure that the tax breaks we provide to businesses make sense in this time of inadequate funding for schools.

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    Here’s what we know:

    1. Oregon’s corporate taxes are some of the lowest in the country. Many large and out-of-state corporations pay very little to support crucial public services, either by simply paying Oregon’s low corporate minimum or by using loopholes to avoid paying Oregon income tax altogether. We need clearer information about the income taxes big corporations pay and don’t pay so we can see if existing laws make sense and if Oregonians are getting a good value from past policy choices.

    2. Oregon schools are severely underfunded. Between the 2007-08 and 2013-14 school years, our public schools lost nearly 3,400 teachers and 1,200 instructional assistants due to budget cuts. These cuts led to increased class sizes – Oregon now has one of the largest average class sizes in the country – and one of the shortest school years in the United States. Because of Oregon’s short school year, by the time our students complete 12th grade, many will have received a full year less instructional time than the national average.

    Here’s what we want to see happen:

    The passing of HB 2940 and HB 2077 will allow the legislature to evaluate whether our current policies are creating the intended outcomes and will allow legislators to create more sound plans to return funding to our schools and other crucial services.

    Please join me in fighting for a fair and transparent tax policy in Oregon. Our kids are depending on it.

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    Funding Our Schools

    Care about education funding? Then you will want to think about this. Every year the State of Oregon spends millions of dollars on tax incentives and tax breaks to businesses. On Wednesday, March 11th, the House Revenue Committee will hold hearings on two bills intended to help the legislature make sure Oregon is getting an appropriate level of benefit from our investment in these incentives and tax breaks.

    HB 2940 would require the state to make clear the amount of property tax breaks we provide to large businesses as economic development incentives, the tax revenue we forego as a result, and what our community gets in return. This information will help the Legislature assess whether the state’s investment in various business incentive programs is the best use of community resources.

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    Ann speaks with Lake Grove Elementary students at the Capitol.