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Considerations as fall begins in District 31

By Rep. Brad Witt


Brad Witt.As days get shorter and mornings take on that crisp, fresh smell of fall in the Northwest, students head back to school. We start looking forward to the fall routines.

Back-to-school investments

After devastating cuts during the recession, the last two legislative sessions have concentrated on reinvestment in education. There is always more to be done and I’m committed to preserving and enhancing education funding and access for all Oregon students. This year there were additional supports for students over the summer. Along with summer meals and other activities, Summer Learning Grants were approved last session to fund programs that add at least 60 hours of learning time for over 5,000 students at high-poverty schools. The summer learning gap is a major driver of inequality and these programs take a targeted step towards closing the gap.

This 2014-15 school year there is an increase of $98 million in local revenue statewide for K-12 schools. For District 31, that means between $84 and $88 more per child, depending on the school district. This builds on the $1 billion boost that the legislature approved in 2013. A world-class education is not a luxury; it enables our young people to achieve rewarding careers, our employers to have skilled and competitive workforces, and is the foundation for a diversified and vibrant economy.

There are also opportunities out there for nontraditional students returning to school to gain new skills or update current ones. Ask a financial aid officer for more information about state grants and loans. In Columbia County we are lucky to have Portland Community College offering classes this fall, with plans to expand and build a center here in the next few years.

We in the Legislature are also heading back to the Capitol Sept. 15 to 17 to meet in committee and make sure that work groups and initiatives are on track. I really enjoy these chances to check in and ensure that we are delivering results for you.

Learning from law enforcement

I’ve also been getting some education this summer. Thanks to the Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division, I was able to spend a day riding along on Sauvie Island. I spent an eventful day with Sgt. Joe Warwick and Lt. Tim Schwartz making sure folks fishing on the island had the proper licenses and endorsements.

Fishing regulations change so often, it is a challenge to keep current; these officers did a fabulous job of educating the sports men and women that we met, and they even gave fishing tips. We encountered people of many different social and ethnic backgrounds enjoying recreational fishing, and our officers showed respect and cultural humility while making sure that everyone was safe and following the law. These officers do amazing work, they have limited resources in terms of time, manpower and equipment, and make sure to use what they have to do the most good.Considerations as fall begins in District 31

Summer fun in the lower Columbia region

With so many community events, I had a hard time keeping up. It was great to be in Vernonia for the Friendship Jamboree and Logging Show, St. Helens for the Maritime Heritage Festival, at the Washington County Fair, the Sauvie Island All-Island Potluck and Preparedness Fair, and at the South County Chamber of Commerce Wings and Wheels event at the Scappoose airport. I even managed to make a stop at this year’s Goble Warming.

The best part of being out at community events is the chance to hear from you in informal settings. I heard from so many constituents on a range of issues, it was great. Thanks for sharing what’s on your mind. Please keep it up. You can contact me any time at 503-986-1431 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Brad Witt is the state representative for District 31, which includes Columbia County.