Spring will come early this year, everyone’s favorite groundhog predicts.
Governor Kitzhaber rolled out his budget plan yesterday. Articles detail the "dramatic changes" and shuffled priorities. Departments, agencies and people share their worries and thoughts of what it means for schools, seniors and our most vulnerable neighbors. Legislators seem cautiously optimistic.
Neil Goldschmidt’s sex-abuse victim passed away recently, and both the Oregonian and the Willamette Week have written articles finally sharing the whole story story — from her point of view.
Here’s a brand new resource we launched today – http://www.oregonbudgetpriorities.org/ (http://www.oregonbudgetpriorities.org/). It’s a project designed to help people understand the human impact of budget cuts and to set us on the path of protecting Oregon’s priorities.
Kitzhaber releases his budget proposal
Kitzhaber rolls out budget plan
"Gov. John Kitzhaber unveiled a two-year budget today that is sure to make most interest groups unhappy. But the Democratic chief executive said the $14.8 billion spending plan is ‘an opportunity to change and improve the way the state does business.’ ‘My budget includes ideas that have been advocated by Democrats and ideas that have been advocated by Republicans,’ he said at a news conference in his ceremonial office."
Kitzhaber says his budget would put Oregon on stable financial footing
"Leaner times call for a ‘decisive break from the past,’ and the state must ratchet back its spending to a more sustainable pace, said Kitzhaber. His budget calls for no tax increases, nor does it go after high-profile cuts, such as eliminating state cell phones or cars, as Gov. Jerry Brown has demanded in California."
"Gov. John Kitz haber Tuesday offered a $14.6 billion spending blueprint that includes some radical and unusual steps aimed at helping keep government services afloat in the lingering recession. The Democratic governor unveiled a plan that makes big cuts in what hospitals and doctors would get paid for treating Oregon Health Plan enrollees, sharply reduces bed space in juvenile offender lockups, and delivers nearly $1 billion less than what schools would require to pay for the needs they project for the upcoming two years."
Kitzhaber’s budget shuffles priorities to balance books
"Kitzhaber’s shifts include funding job creation programs, consolidating disparate early childhood programs and restructuring health care delivery to lower costs and improve quality of care. ‘We have an opportunity — this year — to set Oregon on a course to a bright future,’ Kitzhaber said. ‘The budget shortfall represents an opportunity to change and improve the way the state does business.’"
Governor’s budget: "Dramatic changes" don’t include new taxes
Public News Service
"Members of the caregivers’ union SEIU Local 503 see the cuts from two sides: fewer services for homebound seniors and those with disabilities, and fewer work hours for caregivers. Executive Director Heather Conroy says the issue is fairness, and she’s convinced that service cuts are not the only answer. ‘We do need to find a balanced approach to close the gap. You know, Oregon remains the 43rd lowest state in the nation on business taxes – and we’re going to have to make sure that those who are still getting ahead in this economy are actually helping to solve this problem.’"
OPINION: Oregon governor takes necessary approach to state budget
"Oregon will have about $14.8 billion in general fund tax dollars and lottery receipts to spend during the next two years. That’s a $1.2 billion or so increase from the current two-year budget, which has gone through a series of reductions. How can this be, when many officials have been predicting a $3.5 billion shortfall for 2011-13? The answer is that Kitzhaber is accepting reality instead of whining. That’s a refreshing change in state leadership."
OPINION: Memo to the Gov: provocative words, like fresh ideas, matter
"STEVE DUIN — To take the man at his word, Gov. John Kitzhaber is convinced Oregon needs a fresh approach. ‘We cannot rely,’ he argues in a Tuesday morning op-ed piece, ‘on the ways we have done things in the past.’ True. But if Kitzhaber really wants to sell this vintage, he can’t keep pouring the new wine into the same old wineskins."
Governor’s proposed cuts spark concerns (Social services, OYA among those facing cutbacks)
"For human services, the governor is suggesting 40 percent less money than what agencies say they need. Janet Byrd, executive director of Neighborhood Partnerships, pointed out that many Oregonians are clawing their way out of the recession. She believes cutting health care, child care and other forms of assistance now, could be too much, too soon. ‘Those are the kinds of things that, if we don’t increase them to meet the surge in demand, I worry that so many people are just going to fall further behind, before we have a chance for these structural changes to help people,’ Byrd said."
Oregon prisons: Youth Authority faces biggest changes in budget plan
"The budget unveiled Tuesday by Gov. John Kitzhaber calls for deep cuts in the Oregon Youth Authority, including scrapping 425 of the agency’s 900 close-custody beds for juvenile offenders and cutting 305 jobs. In contrast, Kitzhaber’s proposed budget maintains Department of Corrections funding to keep all 13 adult prisons operating through the 2011-13 budget period."
Kitzhaber’s budget proposes cuts to health care
"Human services could get 40 percent less than they say they need under Gov. John Kitzhaber’s proposed budget and it means some people may lose health services. Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said he talked to Kitzhaber about health care cuts and they both agreed they do not want to drop people off the Oregon Health Plan."
Oregon schools: Officials fear ‘catastrophic’ impact of possibly needing to cut $1 billion
"The proposed budget sets aside $5.56 billion for schools, which is about $1 billion shy of the cost to roll forward current services. The result would mean a $58 million shortfall for the Salem-Keizer School District next year after increased PERS costs and the loss of federal stimulus money are factored in. That’s more than the district spent on high school instruction last year including teachers, supplies and after-school activities."
"We’re already down to bare bones," said Dallas School District Superintendent Christy Perry. "There’s so little left to cut that isn’t cutting to the core."
Proposed budget would mean even more school cuts
The Gresham Outlook
"While state funding would remain stable in 2011-12, local districts will be losing millions of dollars in federal stimulus money that previously had been used to backfill state funding shortfalls. In other words, the cutbacks that were averted due to federal help will come back to the surface this time around."
No surprises in school budget
"Education officials found nothing surprising in the 2011-13 budget plan unveiled by Gov. John Kitzhaber on Tuesday, calling it neither worse nor better than what was expected. That means the proposal will have little effect on plans already being drawn up by both the Eugene and Springfield school districts to deal with large gaps in their expected budgets. The numbers also are in line with what universities and community colleges were expecting."
EDITORIAL: Bite the bullet on closures
"The amount of money the state Legislature will allocate for education is unknown. The Eugene City Council may or may not place a tax measure for schools on the ballot. The voters may or may not approve either a city tax or a Eugene School District bond measure. And the willingness of employees’ unions to agree to further concessions is untested. Yet the school board should approve Superintendent George Russell’s recommendations for school closures not in spite of uncertainty, but because of it."
Kitzhaber plays cards close to vest on public worker pay
"When he released his budget Tuesday, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber was careful not to give any hint of of how much money – if any – he was setting aside to handle a wage settlement with state employee unions. ‘We have not broken that out,’ said Kitzhaber, adding that he would be preparing a salary offer he would lay out to the state employee unions on Feb. 22."
Oregon state workers: budget details are scarce, but job cuts are likely
"State workers received few concrete details amid the ominous rumblings emanating from Gov. John Kitzhaber’s budget presentation Tuesday. Kitzhaber predicted that the Oregon state work force likely will shrink as officials struggle to balance the budget. ‘I expect the work force will be smaller rather than larger once we’re finished with this exercise,’ Kitzhaber said. The budget proposed by Kitzhaber contains 295 fewer positions than the budget approved by the 2009 Oregon Legislature, but it is hard to tell where the cuts ultimately will strike because the governor’s plan involves major agency realignments."
State workforce "will be smaller," Kitzhaber predicts
"The Oregon state workforce likely will shrink as officials struggle to balance the budget, Gov. John Kitzhaber predicted as he presented his proposed budget today. ‘I expect the workforce will be smaller rather than larger once we’re finished with this exercise,’ Kitzhaber said. The budget proposed by Kitzhaber contains 295 fewer positions than the budget approved by the 2009 Oregon Legislature."
OPINION: Public employees: standing ready to collaborate and compromise
"KEN ALLEN and HEATHER CONROY — Public employees are not the enemy. The two unions we lead stand ready to collaborate and compromise as our elected-member bargaining teams negotiate with the state of Oregon on behalf of more than 50,000 state and publicly funded front-line employees."
Reaction from legislators
Party leaders guardedly praise budget
Portland Business Journal
"House and Senate Republicans were cautiously optimistic about the 2011-13 budget unveiled by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber on Tuesday. Rep. Kevin Cameron, the House Republican leader, noted that if projections are correct, the Legislature would have $1.2 billion more to spend in 2011-13 than it did last biennium. His caucus is happy that the Kitzhaber budget isn’t "loaded with tax increases" and myriad spending proposals."
BLOG: Kitzhaber budget wins favorable reaction from Republicans… for now
"The Senate Republican Caucus released a statement echoing Hanna: ‘We are excited that the Governor is building his budget on some of the principles we have been trumpeting for the past four years.’ ‘The governor seems to understand we have to make a change from an expenditure-based budget to a revenue-based budget,’ added Dennis Richardson, who is co-chairing the House side of the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee."
Oregon legislators no longer have time to spare
"In 2003 and 2005, during the first sessions of Democrat Peter Courtney’s Senate presidency, lawmakers wrangled over budgets until August in what became the two longest sessions in state history. ‘We don’t have that luxury,’ Courtney said. ‘We have to make the same tough decisions we did back then — but we have to make them before the end of June.’ Under Oregon’s annual-sessions measure, lawmakers have a maximum of 160 days in odd-numbered years."
Goldschmidt’s victim, story brought to light
Neil Goldschmidt’s sex-abuse victim tells of the relationship that damaged her life
"I was at my desk at The Oregonian, where I was working as a columnist in 2004, when the call came that would lead me to Neil Goldschmidt’s victim. A woman I’d written about a few years earlier was on the line. She had another story for me, she said. Her best friend since childhood was Goldschmidt’s victim, and she wanted to tell her story."
Elizabeth Lynn Dunham: May 12, 1961-Jan. 16, 2011
"On Jan. 23, The Sunday Oregonian published an obituary for Elizabeth Dunham, who had died a week earlier at 49. Nothing in the five-paragraph obit indicated that when she died, Dunham took with her a troubling piece of Oregon history. Although she has remained anonymous until now, Elizabeth Dunham was the victim whom former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt raped in the mid-1970s, beginning when he was mayor of Portland and she was a young teenager. As long as she was alive, the media withheld her name."
The 30-year secret (the original article from 2004)
"When the story of late-20th-century Oregon is written, Neil Goldschmidt will tower over most other public figures. His accomplishments as mayor and governor have stood the test of time. It is also true, however, that his incomprehensible involvement with an adolescent babysitter changed both of their lives forever and—although few people knew about it—the secret profoundly affected Oregon history."
Are the Faux Klingons seeking revenge?
"Wu’s on first? Many political insiders are wondering if U.S. Rep. David Wu, Oregon’s First Congressional District Congressman, is about to be called ‘out.’ Following a disturbing and yet to be fully explained departure of six of the congressman’s long-time staffers, rumors are flying that Wu’s days in office may be numbered. So intense is the speculation that campaigns, in both Republican and Democrat circles, are not so clandestinely being contemplated for a special election to replace Wu."
The man who speaks for Republican Hanna and Democrat Roblan
"Veteran journalist Steve Lindsley is taking on what may be one of the oddest – and touchiest – jobs in state government: serving as the spokesman for the Democratic and Republican co-speakers of the House. Co-Speakers Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg, and Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, raised eyebrows earlier this month when they said they wanted to have a joint spokesman as part of their plan to demonstrate how closely they will work together."
Trust but Verify (E-Verify)
"Advocates for undocumented immigrants accuse U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) of trying to drive illegal workers further underground with a new bill that would require employers to check applicants’ immigration status against a federal database. But DeFazio says House Bill 483, which he introduced Jan. 26, is a better version of a proposal he fears Republicans are pushing in the GOP-controlled House to deal with an estimated 10 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country."