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Mark's Vision

A Model Education System

I envision having an education system that is a model for other states around the country.

How do we get there?

We need a longer school year. But instead of just equaling the number of days our neighboring states require, we must also implement summer school programs to prevent summer slide.

We need smaller class sizes, but we must also think about what else students need – mental health, counseling, career services - and figure out a way to provide it.

We need to make investments in higher education, but we must recognize that a traditional four-year degree is not for everybody and we must invest in trade schools, apprenticeship programs, and community colleges to rebuild Oregon’s middle-class.

There was a time when Oregon’s education system was a model for the rest of the country. It can be again.

In order to make this happen we need stable funding. That means more than just increasing the percent of the general fund that schools receive each year, though that’s a good start.

It means reforming Oregon’s revenue structure to make up for years of disinvestment. It means reducing Oregon’s reliance on personal income tax revenues, which are extremely volatile, and implementing new taxes on businesses to ensure everybody pays their fair share. It means implementing reforms that finally allow school districts to plan ahead instead of planning to get by.

Now you’re probably thinking politicians talk about nothing other than education and nothing ever changes. But while most politicians talk about education, I walk the walk.

I have worked tirelessly to reform Oregon’s outdated education system. My first bill that became law encouraged businesses to create college scholarship programs. I didn’t stop there.

In 2011, I authored a bill giving Oregon’s universities greater flexibility and in return set expectations for higher results. It also included the goal that by 2025: forty percent of Oregonians would hold a bachelor’s degree or more, another forty percent would hold an associate’s degree, and everybody would graduate from high school.

Two of my other education reforms happened in 2015 after years of hard work. Full-day kindergarten, which allows students to jump-start their academic success, was fully-funded and the Oregon Promise, which provides students who graduate from high school with two years of free community college, was passed into law.

Just like full-day kindergarten and the Oregon Promise, we need to think big when it comes to reforming education. I believe there’s a massive difference between setting the pace and merely catching up to the pack. Oregon once set the pace with a model education system. I believe we can do it again.

An Economy that Works for Everyone

I believe having an economy that works for everyone requires that Oregonians not only find jobs, but they find good jobs – living wage jobs that provide health care and retirement benefits.

In recent years, Oregon has made significant progress with this. We’ve passed bills to help Oregon’s businesses spur economic development. We’ve passed bills to give low-income Oregonians more financial security. We’ve passed bills increasing access to health care and creating the Oregon Saves retirement program so Oregonians can retire with dignity.

During the 2017 session, we built on those efforts in two big ways.

We passed the largest investment in Oregon’s infrastructure in modern history. The Transportation Investment Package will fund projects statewide to reduce congestion and improve infrastructure throughout Oregon. This will allow products from Oregon to reach purchasers from all over the world. It also makes investments to provide Oregonians with safe, reliable, and modern transportation options so they spend less time in traffic.

We also passed the Pay Equity bill. With women in Oregon earning 80 cents for every dollar a man earns, this act will help close the pay gap by prohibiting employers from paying workers different wages for the same work.

With those accomplishments, Oregon’s economy is booming. Income is rising. Our poverty rate is decreasing. Unemployment has never been lower. We, however, must do more.

We must ensure Oregonians have secure housing. We must find a permanent way to fund health care for low-income Oregonians. It is imperative we fix our revenue system so that it is stable enough to fund our schools and other government services in a fair way.

Providing that certainty to Oregon’s workers and businesses is economic development at its finest; and if we solve those issues, I’m confident one day we’ll have an economy that works for everyone.

A Clean Place to Call Home

I’m proud of Oregon’s public beaches, its land use laws that prioritize conservation, and our recycling-centric attitude. Those ideals have made Oregon a leader on the environment. In Salem, I have championed the bills that have continued Oregon’s leadership.

In 2011, I worked to modernize Oregon’s historic Bottle Bill. I believe nothing has been more important to fostering Oregon’s commitment to the environment than the Bottle Bill and it was an honor to ensure it would endure into the 21st Century. That year I also helped start the conversation on banning plastic bags. Since then eight cities around Oregon have banned plastic bags with more on the way. In light of those efforts, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters gave me their Perseverance Award for my work to fight pollution. More recently, I sponsored the bill that will remove coal from Oregon’s power grid.

Unfortunately, recent studies suggest our planet’s environment is at a tipping point and needs immediate action. With the federal government acting to create obstacles instead of solutions, it will be up to states like Oregon to lead the way.

That’s why I’m supportive of capping greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon and making investments so we are able to adapt to climate change. The hope is that by joining already successful programs in California and Canada our neighboring states like Washington and Nevada will also join. Helping ensure Oregon is always a clean place to call home.

Meet Mark Hass

Mark Hass is an Oregon State Senator from Washington County and Southwest Portland. His priority in the legislature has been the elusive goal of reforming Oregon's tax structure so that it is less volatile and more stable. He is best known as a leader in education policy, authoring Oregon's full day kindergarten bills and the landmark Oregon Promise law (2015), which provides students with up to two years of free community college tuition. Read more.

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Latest News

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Oregon Legislature wants to "Go Big" on Education November 10, 2018 Tax Foundation: Oregon Seventh Best State for Business Tax Climate October 17, 2018 The Oregonian: Oregon's higher-ed spending pays off for students and taxpayers June 15, 2018 The Oregonian: As economic expansion pushes into its ninth year in Oregon, state reserves grow May 31, 2018 Bend Bulletin: Oregon Keeps its Promise to High School Graduates May 2, 2018

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