Brown focuses on education in state of state speech; Republicans slam her over foster care

Gov. Kate Brown, D-Oregon, delivers her state of the state address at the state Capitol on Monday.

On Monday, Gov. Kate Brown, D-Oregon, proposed spending $300 million on making students more employable in her state of the state speech.

Meanwhile, the state lawmaker hoping to replace her slammed Brown for not mentioning findings from a scathing recent audit.

"For too many in Oregon, the American dream has become the impossible dream," Brown told legislators.

She said the key to fixing that problem is education.

"Oregon's rising tide should be lifting all boats," Brown explained.

She kicked off this year's short, 35-day legislative session with a speech focused mainly on education.

Though the state's graduation rate is still below the national average she said it's getting better.

"In the three years I have been governor, our graduation rate has improved by nearly 5 percent," Brown said. "But currently, one out of every four job openings in Oregon’s tech industry is filled from out of state. One out of every five jobs for advanced manufacturing are filled from out of state. Just this past summer, private businesses in Oregon reported 66,000 job vacancies. Looking ahead, state economists are projecting 27,000 high-wage, high-demand job openings each year through 2024. It is clear there is a gap between the skills Oregon’s workers have and the skills that our growing businesses need. This is unacceptable.”

State Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, said Brown's speech missed the mark.

"With the devastating audit last week about the condition of our foster kids in the state where kids are being abused serially, nearly starved to death -- not a word about it," Beuhler said. "Whatever she talked about can wait. What can't wait is our foster kids in this state."

Buehler is running against Brown for governor this year.

He wants lawmakers to set aside $50 million for a rapid improvement team to quickly start fixing foster care problems at Oregon's Department of Human Services.

And regarding Brown's call for more technical education, Buehler said he's heard it before.

"The reality is that the underfunding of Measure 98, which would've created one of the most robust training and graduation and technical training programs this state would ever see," Beuhler said. "And what'd the governor do last session? She cut it by almost 50 percent, so I think actions is a lot more important than talk."

Brown said the Legislature quadrupled funding for career and technical education programs last year, though her last proposed budget cut Measure 98 funding in half.

Buehler said increased funding for education should come from reforming the state's public employees retirement system, which is now more than $25 billion in debt.

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