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Oregon Narrowly Approves K-12 Spending Plan

Oregon lawmakers narrowly approved an $8.2 billion two-year spending plan for K-12 schools Tuesday.

The final vote was 31-28, and the measure now heads to Gov. Kate Brown's desk.

The K-12 plan is an 11 percent increase over the previous budget cycle, but many lawmakers said it still wasn't enough.

Rep. Diego Hernandez of Portland was one of four freshman Democrats to cross the aisle and vote with Republicans against the measure.

"We need our schools to be the schools our students deserve," Hernandez said. "For that reason, I'm voting no today, but I will make it my mission to work as hard as I can to make sure we strengthen funding for our schools."

Democrats accused Republicans of stonewalling efforts to raise revenue by overhauling the way the state taxes businesses.

"The Democratic leaders have fought all session to find a path that would allow us to invest even more in public schools," said Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard. "This budget represents the absolute best we can responsibly afford. Without long-term structural revenue reform, $8.2 billion is the best we can hope for this session."

But Republicans accused Democrats of failing to act on cost-containment measures for state government that the GOP said would have freed up more money for schools.

"We do need more resources," said Rep. Rich Vial, R-Scholls. "The reality, however, is that the broken and inadequate revenue system … is something we cannot fix without securing the trust of the voters and taxpayers that it requires in order to make that fix. And the reality is right now that they do not trust us."

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting