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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.

Education Advocates Press Oregon Budget Committee For More Funding

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File photo of Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland.

Education advocates made their case for increased school funding in front of Oregon lawmakers Thursday. The subcommittee that focuses on education heard testimony from people who want lawmakers to boost K-12 funding from the $7.8 billion proposed in a preliminary budget framework.

Aliemah Bradley, a senior at Jefferson High School in Portland, serves as the student representative on the Portland Public Schools Board.

"This isn't a difficult choice,” she said. “Please stand with students. Put education first in this budget and do not settle for adequate. Please help us reach for excellence."

The director of the Oregon School Boards Association testified that an increase to $8.4 billion is needed to avoid what she described as "widespread cuts."

Lawmakers are grappling with an overall budget shortfall of roughly $1.6 billion across all state agencies.

The co-chair of the Ways and Means Education Subcommittee said he was sympathetic to the desire for more education funding. But Sen. Rod Monroe, a Portland Democrat, reminded the lobbyists and students in attendance that ultimately, the decision on how much to allocate depends on factors outside the panel's control.

"Please, go out there and talk to your legislators and tell them this state needs additional revenue if we're going to reach the goals that we need to reach, in terms of education funding," Monroe said.