SALEM, Ore. — While the nation is in day four of a federal shutdown, Oregon lawmakers continue to celebrate the success of a three-day special session. The topic was a complex package of several pieces of legislation dubbed the “grand bargain.”
It was back and forth the first two days of special session, but by late Wednesday afternoon all five bills had managed to pass through in this “grand bargain.”
The three senate bills work to reform the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) by cutting cost of living increases to save $400 million dollars a year. The senate also passed a bill limiting local regulation of genetically modified plants.
In the house, the bills mean tax increases for some and cuts for others, ultimately, adding $200 million a year to the budget for two years. A spending plan is also included, which pays for big increases to education and other services.
“We were able to do what I think a lot of people thought was impossible and that was to bring diverse groups together through a combination of cost savings and increased revenue to give a big boost to our public education system,” said Governor John Kitzhaber.
The increase for K-12 education should be about a $100 million a year for the next two years.
A lot of that money is expected to be used to hire new teachers, add school days and keep university tuition in check across the state.
The governor has yet to sign off on those bills, but is expected to very soon.