Rep. Sollman: First session of Legislature has focus on education
My main focus as a freshman legislator was to: listen, learn, and act.
As the legislative session wrapped up in July, and as I have had time to reflect, I find myself both proud of the work we did and excited to continue making our community and state an even better place to live. While this session was filled with many obstacles, through strong leadership we were able to continue fighting for strong education funding including $170 million for career technical education programs and high school graduation initiatives, $8.2 billion for K-12 funding, an 11 percent increase for most schools over the last budget, and $736.9 million for our students in higher education.
This session I was fortunate to be a member of two education committees, which allowed me to utilize my experience as an eight-year member of the Hillsboro School Board. I fought for our K-12 schools, for higher education, and for programs that are critical to Oregonians, like early childhood programs.
On the Education Committee I was proud of the work we accomplished to make our classrooms a safer and more inclusive space for all of our students in Oregon. One of my biggest joys was being able to bring the voices of students from Quatama Elementary School to the floor of the House. I was really lucky to have fifth-graders from Witch Hazel Elementary School as my guests to see the passage of the Ethnic Studies bill. This legislation will ensure the development of curriculum to help bring overall awareness to the cultures of Oregonians from every walk of life.
Along with K-12, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee. With our investment, we were able to hold down double-digit tuition increases, and continued to fund the Oregon Promise which provides nearly free community college tuition for Oregon high school graduates. There was also a large focus on making sure that workforce needs are met and that we identify those key occupations and encourage students to explore them. One of the ways we were able to do that was through the passage of House Bill 3437, of which I was a proud sponsor, creating the Workforce & Talent Development Board to highlight which industries will be in need of workers in the future.
As a proud supporter of Measure 98, I was also thrilled to see the state take meaningful steps in addressing our graduation rate and providing multiple pathways for our K-12 students. I was disappointed that we didn't get the needed tax reform to fund these programs at the full level, but I am committed to continuing the fight for revenue reform so that our students have the best opportunity to succeed. If we want to increase graduation rates and know each student by name, strength and need in the Hillsboro and Banks school districts, we need to do better as a state to support the means to make that a reality.
While I am proud of what came out of the session, there is still a lot to be done and I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and continuing the work for our districts.
Rep. Janeen Sollman's District 30 includes Hillsboro and portions of Aloha.