State Budget Calls For Deep Cuts

By Kiera Morgan

Since the Legislature began Oregonians have been told that there will be shortages in the budget. This is despite the fact that there is more money coming into the state right now. According to State Representative David Gomberg the shortage is due to unfunded financial obligations of the state. Gomberg said in the latest proposed budget the state is looking at cuts to schools, reducing the money for free college tuition for qualified Oregonians.

Gomberg said there are also going to be reduction to programs that support economic development and reducing programs for seniors including Project Independence.  The rising cost of Medicaid benefits, state worker pensions and the addition of voter-passed measures to help high school students and veterans Gomberg said has left the state budget with a $1.6 billion hole to fill. They are looking at what the budget would look like right now without having additional funding.

Gomberg added they are also saving money by elimination vacant positions at state agencies and eliminating programs. There are also talks about adjusting the state tax structure. The figures don’t include potential revenue from a hospital tax or a gross receipts tax or cost containment measures that bipartisan work groups around the capitol are fashioning. Those talks are expected to continue over the next two or three weeks. During the coming month, lawmakers will see if they can bring any of the new tax or cost containment measures to fruition.