Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
To increase the number of good jobs in Oregon, the state will pursue a strategy of developing a skilled and reliable workforce, while upgrading Oregon's public education system and investing in job training to increase productivity and put Oregonians to work, said Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
"We must work to keep good jobs in Oregon," the governor said to business leaders recently. "We can do so only if we innovate, only if we respond to changing markets, the changing needs of customers and changing global conditions."
Addressing the grand opening ceremony for a new research and development center built by Invitrogen, a biotech company that operates Molecular Probes of Eugene, the governor said that education and skills training are the foundation of this strategy.
To further the strategy, he has proposed revamping the way Oregon runs and pays for public education, from pre-kindergarten through college — using a concept called the "Education Enterprise."
In addition to combining all sectors of the education system into a single entity, Education Enterprise would dedicate 61 percent of the state's general fund to education and guarantee a minimum 10-percent budget increase in every new budget cycle for each part of the enterprise. The program would also create a rainy-day fund to protect education from budget cuts whenever the economy takes a downturn and reduces state revenues.
Several weeks ago, Kulongoski announced his intention to present a kindergarten-through-12th-grade budget of $6 billion to the Legislature next year — a 12-percent increase over the previous biennial budget.
"First and foremost, it means we will put the days of cutting school budgets behind us forever. It also means the various sectors of the education community will no longer compete with each other for funding. It will provide stability, growth and sustainability for all public education, from top to bottom," the governor said.
The Education Enterprise won't try to force everybody into a four-year college program, Kulongoski said. "That's not what Oregon needs. After all, nearly three-quarters of our state's adults don't have college degrees, and many of those don't even want college degrees."
The Education Enterprises recognizes that working with your hands and making Oregon's finest products is honorable work, he added.
"It also recognizes that, in today's world, you must also be able to work with your mind. Every Oregonian needs a good education to succeed. Every student needs a strong foundation in math, science and reading to prepare for a job and career in the 21st century, even if he or she doesn't need four-year degree."