The new revenue forecast was released this morning – state revenues for the current budget are flat, but slightly down for the 2011-13 budget, showing an improving state economy. Gov. Kitzhaber released a statement today, saying "The worst is over, but Oregon’s recovery will take time."
A tuition equity bill with bipartisan sponsorship was introduced with great fanfare yesterday — it would allow the children of undocumented immigrants who graduate from Oregon high schools to pay in-state tuition at Oregon universities, allowing greater access to higher education.
Budget cuts still loom — and some legislators (and the Gov) have suggested significant cuts to the state’s cash assistance program (assistance to unemployed families) as a way to save money. Labor groups launch a support network for Oregon’s most vulnerable folks, and a House panel looks at giving tax credits to companies that create jobs.
New revenue forecast released
Oregon’s economy in ‘recovery’ but state revenues are flat for this year, down for next
"Oregon’s state revenue picture is, well, flat. Economists delivering the latest update to legislative revenue committees on Tuesday said they expect overall state tax collections for the current budget period are down slightly, by about $1.5 million. Positive signs: Personal income tax growth is accelerating. Corporate taxes remain high. ‘Hopefully, down the road we should see some gains in employment,’ said Oregon state economist Tom Potiowsky. So that means it looks like there won’t be any more cuts to the state’s current budget. But challenges for the state’s 2011-13 budget remain. The forecast shows revenues could be down by another $110 million."
Oregon revenue forecast remains flat
Portland Business Journal
"Tom Potiowsky, Oregon’s state economist, blamed the continued drop on a “prolonged plunge” in personal income taxes, especially those related to non-wage forms of income. The flat forecast spurred guarded optimism from Democrats and continued concern from Republicans. ‘Today’s revenue forecast is consistent with the analysis we used in creating my budget,’ said Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, in a statement. ‘The worst is over, but Oregon’s recovery will take time… Now is the right time to integrate and streamline state services like health care and education to deliver better outcomes and reduce costs.’"
Tuition equity bill introduced, gains bipartisan support
Immigrant education bill gains support
"Some students, regardless of their immigration status, would pay tuition at state universities at the same rates as other Oregon residents under a bill that is likely to mimic some aspects of the national debate about immigration. The bill, which has surfaced in previous sessions, has Democratic and Republican cosponsors. Advocates said the bill would benefit students such as Jessica Garcia, now a sophomore at North Eugene High School, who moved to the United States with her mother when she was 1 year old. She competes in track and cross-country and would like to become a microbiologist."
VIDEO: Bipartisan tuition equity bill
"KATU News Broadcast on the bipartisan Tuition Equity Bill introduced during a Press Conference at the Oregon State Capitol."
Student wants to pay in-state, but parents undocumented
"A teenager pleaded with Oregon lawmakers Monday to allow her to pay in-state tuition at Oregon colleges even though she does not legally have citizenship. Jessica Garcia, a sophomore at North Eugene High School, has lived in Oregon since she was just a year old. Her parents are undocumented, which means she is not considered an Oregon citizen and not eligible for in-state tuition."
New bill allows in-state tuition for immigrants
"Several members of the Legislature, including Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, say they’ll sponsor a bill that would allow undocumented Oregon students to pay in-state college tuition. The bill’s sponsors made the announcement Monday during a press conference at the Capitol in Salem. There has been controversy over allowing students who are not legal immigrants to attend public schools and colleges, but the Morse bill focuses on what level of tuition undocumented students must pay."
Oregon cash assistance program could see cuts
"Oregon Legislators are considering significantly reducing how long a family can receive the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The TANF program, which is associated with the Oregon Trail Plan, gives unemployed and underemployed families money through the Department of Human Services for up to 60-months. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber recently proposed reducing that time frame to 18 months. State Rep. Wally Hicks (R- Grants Pass) is taking the proposal a step further. He is sponsoring a House bill that would limit the time frame to just 12 months."
EDITORIAL: ESDs under a microscope
"The Oregon Legislature, having already searched under the sofa cushions for change and returned empty soda bottles for deposit, is taking a close look at Oregon’s 20 education service districts. Opportunities to wring savings from ESDs should be explored — their budgets are large, and their operations are under-examined — but if the districts did not exist, something like them would have to be invented."
Gov. John Kitzhaber’s plan to shift highway money to schools faces trouble in Legislature
"One of the more intriguing parts of Gov. John Kitzhaber’srecommended budget — a proposal to effectively shift nearly $100 million from the state highway fund to schools — has run into immediate trouble at the Legislature. Powerful lobbyists have lined up quickly against it. Would-be allies in Democratic circles are panning the idea. And even ardent school advocates are voicing only muted support."
Labor groups to launch support network
"With the state’s unemployment still above the national average, new networks are springing up here in Oregon to help those without a job cope. The latest networking effort, ‘Oregon Wants To Work’, is a collaborative effort of several labor groups that want to help those with and without jobs. Harold Trinen, a financial analyst, said he’ll be at the first meeting. He’s been without work for almost two years and said he hopes the meeting will prompt companies to take a closer look at what he calls the high caliber of workers who never expected to be idled by the economy."
Oregon House panel looks at legislation to create jobs
"Oregon lawmakers on Monday considered two proposals to grant tax credits to companies that create jobs. The ideas are still in their infancy but are part of an intense push by lawmakers to encourage businesses to hire Oregonians looking for work. More than one in 10 Oregon workers is unemployed, a rate worse than the national average. House Bill 2411 would grant a tax credit of up to $500,000 to businesses that build new facilities in Oregon and expand their payroll. Expansions in regions designated ‘distressed areas’ would get a tax credit worth 5 percent of the new costs for employee pay."
City to send voters school income tax
"Eugene voters in May will decide the fate of a city income tax intended to raise money for public schools. At the urging of parents and teachers, the City Council voted 7 to 1 Monday night to put an income tax on the May 17 ballot. If approved by voters, the tax would raise an estimated $16.8 million for the Eugene and Bethel school districts annually for four years to minimize teacher layoffs, keep class sizes from growing more than necessary and preserve as many instruction days as possible."
Sellwood Bridge-fee foes racking up signatures
"Petitioners expect to turn in more than 7,000 signatures on Wednesday, Feb. 16, the deadline to place a controversial $5 vehicle registration fee increase on Clackamas County’s May 17 ballot. To refer an ordinance to voters, the petitioners have 90 full days to submit 6,252 verified signatures. On Dec. 9 the Board of County Commissioners passed the ordinance to help fund the reconstruction of the Sellwood Bridge."
Predatory loan critics win key victory
Portland Business Journal
"The federal government has given Oregon consumer advocates a big victory in their fight against so-called "predatory" tax refund loans. Last Wednesday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. issued a cease and desist order against a Kentucky bank that works with tax giant Jackson Hewitt to offer such loans. Economic Fairness Oregon says high-interest tax refund loans cost Oregonians $8 million in 2008."
Payments to counties squeezed but remain
"The White House is proposing once again to renew its so-called county payments aid to Lane County and scores of other rural counties nationwide, but at an ever-dwindling rate, officials said Monday. President Obama’s proposed budget included $328 million for the first in a five-year extension of the county payments program that has long propped up Lane County and other county governments across the West, federal lawmakers said."
EDITORIAL: No bankruptcy for states
"The notion that deficit- ridden states should be able to declare bankruptcy is a slam dunk for the Bad Idea Hall of Fame, but don’t expect it go away any time soon. Not with states across the country mired in financial despair. Tax revenues are plunging, demands for services are soaring and obligations for pensions and health care are devouring ever-larger portions of state budgets. The idea is being pushed by a growing number of conservative activists, including Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush.