Today’s Clips – February 2, 2011

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
Statesman Journal
"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
OregonLive
"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."

Governor’s redesign
Register Guard
"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
Portland Tribune
"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
Statesman Journal
"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
OregonLive
"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."

Social Services

Governor’s proposed cuts spark concerns (Social services, OYA among those facing cutbacks)
KTVZ
"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
Statesman Journal
"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
KATU
"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."

Schools

Oregon schools: Officials fear ‘catastrophic’ impact of possibly needing to cut $1 billion
Statesman Journal
"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
Register Guard
"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
Register Guard
"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."

State Workers

Kitzhaber plays cards close to vest on public worker pay
Jeff Mapes
"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
Statesman Journal
"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
Statesman Journal
"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
OregonLive
"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
Jeff Mapes
"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
Statesman Journal
"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
The Oregonian
"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
WWeek
"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)
WWeek
"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."

Other headlines

Are the Faux Klingons seeking revenge?
Hillsboro Argus
"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
Jeff Mapes
"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)
WWeek
"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."

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Today’s Clips – February 3, 2011

Happy Thursday!

Today’s headlines reflect the real life effects of budget cuts – on schools and students, on community college tuition, on healthcare and on our criminal justice system. (By the way, if you haven’t checked out our new website,www.oregonbudgetpriorities.org (http://www.oregonbudgetpriorities.org/), you can go there to find out more about the impacts of potential budget cuts.)


Comcast settles an Oregon class-action suit for $23 million, affecting 500,000 customers statewide.

A new report shows that Oregon’s tax burden remains in the bottom third of states, meaning that Oregonians pay less in taxes than people in most other states.

Real life effects of budget cuts

Oregon City expects to cut 5 school days
KPTV
"The Oregon City School District has announced plans to cut five days from the current school year in an effort to address a budget shortfall, according to a news release. District officials said additional school days may be cut from next year as well."

Kitzhaber’s proposal would scale back OHP treatments
OPB
"The state maintains a list of nearly 700 medical procedures ranked in order of priority. Right now only the top 502 items on that list are covered by the Oregon Health Plan. Kitzhaber’s budget proposal would subtract about 40 procedures from the list of what’s covered. So patients would be on their own for things like bronchitis or severe hemorrhoids."

Kitzhaber budget reduces community college funding
KDRV
"Community college students in Oregon could soon find it a little more expensive to attend class. That is because community college funding is expected to decline under the new budget proposals by Governor John Kitzhaber. The governor’s plan calls for reducing the Community College Support Fund by 9 percent."

Kitzhaber’s budget could cost college students
KTVZ
"Middleton said in Oregon, community college enrollment has jumped 36 percent over the last two years, and more students plus less funding is bad news all around. ‘This means we’re not only getting fewer dollars, but we’re having to stretch them, much, much further,’ Middleton said."

Schools’ fates decided
Register Guard
"Parker and Crest Drive elementary schools? Gone. Meadowlark Elementary School students? You will be heading to Willagillespie Elementary School in the fall. Coburg Elementary School? You are also closing, but the Coburg Community Charter School has been approved by the Eugene School Board, and it will be housed in the same building as the elementary school."

Schools await more budget details
Albany Democrat Herald
"Gov. John Kitzhaber has released his budget proposal for Oregon’s public schools, but mid-valley districts say they’ll stick with their current money-saving plans until the numbers become more solid. Kitzhaber has proposed allocating $5.56 billion to schools over the next two years, 52 percent of that figure in the first year and 48 percent in the second year."

Schools prepare for looming cuts
South County Spotlight
"St. Helens Superintendent Patricia Adams praised the entire school staff for sacrificing to make the 2010-11 budget work. But with the school district expected to face a budget gap of $2.4 million next year, more belt tightening is required to balance the budget. ‘We’ve already cut everywhere we can cut,’ said school board member Benita Saatvedt. ‘We can’t just take away from our teachers and students and expect them to learn.’"

Autism Society of Oregon says state budget cuts hurting programs
KDRV
"With many state programs seeing across-the-board budget cuts, one group says it cannot afford any more. The Autism Society of Oregon says it has received many calls recently from families with autistic adults. Officials says the cuts are making it harder for families to have access to as many programs as they would like."

Incarcerated kids to be released after budget cut
The Columbian
"Hundreds of Oregon juvenile offenders are scheduled to be released into less-restrictive environments and hundreds more now under supervision could be released back into their communities. That’s the likely result of a major budget cut to the Oregon Youth Authority proposed by Gov. John Kitzhaber on Tuesday as part of his attempt to bridge a $3.5 billion budget gap."

Details of Gov. Kitzhaber’s proposal

State officials combing through governor’s budget
OPB
"State agency heads and lawmakers are combing through Governor John Kitzhaber’s $14.5 billion budget that was released Tuesday."

EDITORIAL: The governor proposes a new paradigm
Register Guard
"Kitzhaber embraced a new approach in his budget proposal. He began with the current spending levels, not projected needs, as a baseline — $13.5 billion, excluding the stimulus funds. With $14.75 billion in projected revenues, the result is a $1.25 billion increase in the next biennium. The governor attempted to allocate that money in ways that would improve Oregon’s economy and prevent such costly social problems as crime and poor health."

Comcast settles Oregon class-action suit

Comcast to repay late fees
Register Guard
"Comcast has agreed to pay up to $23 million to Oregon customers who were charged late fees from July 15, 2003, through Nov. 22, 2010, to settle a class-action lawsuit. Comcast also agreed to donate a total of $75,000 to the Oregon Food Bank and United Way of the Columbia and Willamette and to pay Portland lawyer David Sugerman’s legal fees of up to $5 million. Sugerman was appointed by the court to represent Comcast customers."

Comcast settles Oregon late fee class-action suit for $23 million
OregonLive
"Comcast Corp. has agreed to pay up to $23 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that it improperly charged late fees to its Oregon cable TV customers. The settlement potentially benefits as many as 500,000 Oregon subscribers, according to Saadia McConville of Economic Fairness Oregon, which is publicizing the agreement."

Comcast’s $23 million settlement in Oregon
WWeek
"The lawsuit under the state’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act stemmed from charges Comcast collected during the past seven years—a $6 late fee it got from customers in Oregon. As a result, about 500,000 Oregon residents who use—or have used Comcast—will be informed within the next week through mail about the settlement and how to file their claims."

Other headlines

Oregon tax burden remains in bottom third of states, new report says
OregonLive
"No matter how you slice or dice the numbers, Oregonians bear a smaller tax burden than people in most other states, according to a new state report. When all charges are considered, including federal taxes and fees, Oregon’s share was $7,663 per person in 2008, the latest numbers available. That ranks 33 out of 50 states."

OPINION: Oregon’s other gap: Teachers vent, and weary public rants right back
OregonLive
"SUSAN NIELSEN — On one side are teachers, feeling overworked and under siege. On the other side is everyone else — retirees, parents, laid-off teachers, you name it — sounding short on patience for teachers’ troubles and long on frustration with the status quo. If these two sides continue to talk past each other, Oregon won’t be able to make the changes needed to put schools on a stable footing."

Kate Brown offers lawmakers a deal on campaign finance disclosure
Jeff Mapes
"Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is backing legislation that in essence offers lawmakers a deal: agree to more quickly reveal your big campaign contributions and you can take more time to publicly report your smaller transactions. House Bill 2259, introduced at Brown’s request, requires donations or expenditures of more than $5,000 to be reported to to the state’s public disclosure database within 48 hours."

Anti-abortion groups step up campaign against Planned Parenthood

NY Times
"Planned Parenthood has fired a clinic manager who was seen on videotape advising a man posing as a sex trafficker, and anti-abortiongroups seized on the episode to step up their campaign to cut off public financing for the organization. The manager was videotaped covertly in a clinic in Perth Amboy, N.J., by actors working for an anti-abortion group, Live Action."

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Today’s Clips – February 4, 2011

The University of Oregon’s economic index shows hopeful signs this week as December marked another month of positive economic gains.

Local school districts across the state prepare to close schools and weather deep budget cuts. Business leaders push for changes to the university system; faculty and students express concerns.

The Legislature and budget discussions are in full swing today, as leaders figure out how to deal with the $3.5 billion budget deficit. Oregon Senate Democrats released their agenda for this year’s session, which you can find in it’s entirety here (http://www.leg.state.or.us/senatedemocrats/docs/2011_Agenda_FINAL.pdf).


Oregon House Democrats plan to release their agenda at 12:30 today.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Oregon economic index shows hopeful signs

Oregon economy marches upward
Portland Business Journal
"December marked another month of positive economic gains in Oregon, with improvements in every major category tracked by the University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators. The index rose 2.7 percent in December to 90.5, the third consecutive monthly gain."

University of Oregon economist ‘much more optimistic’ as indicators point to recovery

OregonLive
"The economy has bounce, finally. A monthly University of Oregon economic index out Thursday showed that all seven of its state and national indicators improved in December. Tim Duy, the economist who prepares the UO Index of Economic Indicators, sees a recovery under way, with Oregon employment poised for higher growth than the nation."

State economy on upswing
Register Guard
"The outlook is brightening for Oregon’s economy, with even the job market finally starting to show signs of improvement, according to a monthly economic forecast done by the University of Oregon. ‘The UO Index has now completely reversed the losses experienced this summer, alleviating concerns of a double dip recession,’ the index author, UO economist Tim Duy, said. The national economy also is picking up steam after slowing down in the middle of last year, he said."

Schools prepare to close doors, weather big cuts

Budget ax looms for Bryant Elementary School in Lake Oswego
OregonLive
"Anne Lambson moved in this summer so her children could walk to school. Bryant alumna Dawn Foster always wanted her kids to carry on a family tradition. Thomas Gemal returned from Sweden eager for his family to reconnect with the school’s close community. But now, in a scenario familiar across Oregon, budget constraints threaten to close Bryant as an elementary school and change the neighborhood."

North Clackamas School District recommends closing two schools, consolidating two others
OregonLive
"The North Clackamas School District could close two elementary schools and consolidate two others to cut costs, according to a proposal presented to the school board Thursday night. News of the closures made rounds earlier this week, when administrators visited four different schools to inform parents."

Medford schools looking to trim budget
KTVL
"The Medford school system is looking to trim $10 to $14 million from their budget alone. The budget cuts could mean schools having to go without updated supplies or new books.  Everything is on the table. The district held the open forum to get input from the community about what exactly students could live without."

K-12 cuts shine light on Kitzhaber

Portland Business Journal
"Facing a $3.5 billion budget shortfall, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber really had no choice. School advocates were quick to pounce on Kitzhaber’s 2011-2013 budget, which slashed funding for the statewide K-12 education budget 16 percent, to $5.56 billion."

Budget calls for early childhood changes
Statesman Journal
"Kitzhaber wants to merge the agencies that take care of young children and require them to prove they’re getting results. It’s a lofty goal fraught with political and bureaucratic land mines, but one that would significantly change the way parents of at-risk young children interact with the government. ‘This could be his signature moment in terms of the budget,’ Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said of Kitzhaber’s early childhood initiatives."

Determining the future of higher ed in Oregon

Business leaders tell Senate they strongly support overhaul of Oregon University System
OregonLive
"Business leaders testified before a Senate education committee today firmly in favor of a bill to give Oregon public universities more independence. During the public hearing, however, faculty and students raised concerns about the proposal to restructure the seven-campus Oregon University System. Leaders of the Oregon Business Association, the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Associationand Associated Oregon Industries all supported the bill and argued the state needs to strengthen its higher education system."

Forum takes a close look at the future of higher education
Portland Tribune
"During the past two decades, Oregon has steadily shifted more responsibility for funding its universities from the state to students through tuition and fees. At PSU, the state’s share of total support dropped from 35 percent in 1994-95 to 12.8 percent in 2010-11. As a result, Oregon is among the states spending the least amount per student for higher education and among those with the highest level of state control."

Oregon Senate committee approves lofty goal for raising population’s education levels
OregonLive
"Oregon’s Senate education committee this afternoon unanimously approved a bill that would cement in law a state goal to dramatically raise the education levels of Oregonians by 2025. During a public hearing, David Rives, president of the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon, which represents some university faculty, said the state is setting lofty goals for educational attainment at the same time it is looking at reducing state support of higher education. ‘I don’t see how it is going to happen,’ he said."

Legislative session, budget discussions in full swing

Oregon Senate Democrats outline agenda
KTVZ
"The Oregon Senate Democrats released their 2011 Legislative Agenda Thursday, vowing to work across the aisle with Republicans on the issues. Citing the need to create jobs, protect our children’s futures, and look out for the most vulnerable, Senate Democrats released an agenda that outlines their ideas for how to continue helping Oregonians during these challenging times while finding opportunities for transforming government and improving our economy."

See their full 2011 agenda here (http://www.leg.state.or.us/senatedemocrats/docs/2011_Agenda_FINAL.pdf).

Senate Democrats release 2011 legislative agenda
Salem News
"’We recognize that our budget challenges are front and center this session, which makes it more important than ever to have a disciplined and pragmatic agenda that is focused on helping Oregon families and small business,’ said Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland)."

Oregon State Hospital patients become lobbyists for a day
Statesman Journal
"A group of Oregon State Hospital patients visited the state Capitol on Thursday to lobby for legislation aimed at revamping and speeding up discharge practices at the Salem psychiatric facility. Four patients stopped by legislators’ offices and the office of Gov. John Kitzhaber during the self-styled lobbying campaign, which included a 30-minute meeting with Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem."

Ore. Governor’s budget making room for Hollywood
KTVL
"Oregon’s governor hopes to turn our state into the Northwest’s own Hollywood. He said putting Oregon on the big screen is key to bringing in big money. So he’s boosting the tax credit for film and television production by 10 million a year."

Junction City concerned about possible prison delay

KMTR
"With the prospect of the state building a new prison near Junction City, people were starting to feel better about the town’s financial future. Now residents are concerned about Governor Kitzhaber’s suggestion to curb prison construction in order to save money and balance Oregon’s budget. Junction City has been dealt some hefty blows recently."

OPINION: The fallacy of a $3.5 billion Oregon budget deficit
Statesman Journal
"STEVE BUCKSTEIN — $3,500,000,000. That’s the latest official state estimate for what is described as a looming deficit in Oregon’s General Fund Budget for the upcoming 2011-13 biennium. Ask the average Oregonian what this means, and he or she is likely to say that the state must cut its spending by $3.5 billion, increase taxes by that amount, or do some combination of the two. In reality, such stark choices are not necessary because the deficit is not what it appears."

EDITORIAL: Legislature could finally ease kicker’s sting
Gazette Times
"Is this finally the legislative session that gets serious about reforming Oregon’s tax ‘kicker?’ Could be. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are engaged in serious discussion about making big changes to the kicker, a rebate given to both individual and corporate taxpayers when the calculated revenue for a given biennium exceeds forecasted revenue by at least 2 percent."

Other headlines

Class action suit alleges Comcast charged illegal late fees
OPB
"Subscribers to Comcast now have an opportunity to recoup some late fees from the cable company, thanks to a class-action lawsuit filed in Oregon. About 500,000 current and former customers are eligible to become part of the class. The plaintiffs say the way Comcast charged late fees to its cable TV subscribers between 2003 and 2010 failed to comply with of Oregon law."

COLUMN: Realtor Steve Salisbury is ready to keep up fight against higher dues for political causes
OregonLive
"ANNA GRIFFIN — Steve Salisbury, a Marine Corps veteran who describes himself as ‘irascible and unpleasantly stubborn,’ hates the idea of a real-estate transfer tax, a special charge slapped on your bill when property changes owners. He hates politics even more, which explains why he raised a stink this winter when he got an email ordering him and some 14,000 other agents to pay an additional $75 in Oregon Association of Realtors dues."

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