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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon House Approves K-12 Budget On Party Line Vote

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Cacophony
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File photo of the Oregon House chamber. The Oregon House approved a $7.3 billion spending plan Tuesday.

The Oregon House debated more than two hours Tuesday before voting to fund public schools.

The nearly $7.3 billion spending plan was approved on a party line vote. The money represents about a nine percent increase. That translates, on average, to about $100 more per public school student across Oregon.

Republicans and education advocacy groups said it isn't enough. Even the Democrats who crafted the plan said they were hoping for a bigger number.

"This is not what I came here for,” said Rep. Peter Buckley, the Democrats' top budget writer in the Oregon House. “I did not come here to shortchange, not to get our kids what they need. I came here to try to get them everything that they need. But the budget we have today is the best that we can do under the resources we have."

But Democrats say the bill is simply a guaranteed baseline for school districts to start planning local budgets for next year. The measure would dedicate more money for schools if the May revenue forecast shows an upswing.

The bill now heads to the Oregon Senate.