Office of the Senate President
Office of the House Speaker
Contact: Robin Maxey Geoff Sugerman February 2, 2009
(503) 986-1605 (503) 986-1210
House and Senate Leaders Lay Out Strategy For Dealing with Budget Crisis
“We have a plan in place to
prioritize the list of possible cuts we’ve received from state agencies to meet
the budget shortfall. That plan includes public hearings and input from all the
Ways and Means subcommittees under the direction of Senator Carter and
Representative Buckley,” said House Speaker
“Everyone will, no doubt, be concerned by the enormity of the budget cuts we are facing in the remainder of the biennium," said Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem/Gervais/Woodburn). “We have to make hundreds of agonizing decisions. The process and timeline we have laid out today will allow us to make those decisions in an orderly and timely fashion.”
Courtney and Hunt said the Legislature asked last November for cut recommendations from all agencies equal to 5 percent of their 2007-2009 budgets, amounting to 20 to 25 percent of the remaining 07-09 budgets.
That request for cuts was spurred by the fall revenue forecast showing the state would be essentially $142 million in debt due to the economic decline nationwide. Now the state economist is projecting that the gap has grown by $300 million to $600 million more.
That list of potential cuts – available at the Legislative Fiscal Office website -- is now being analyzed by Ways and Means Co-Chairs Representative Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) and Senator Margaret Carter (D-Portland). Legislative leaders have already announced they will cut over $4 million from the Legislative Assembly 07-09 budget, which will be the first budget cut bill on which lawmakers will act.
The co-chairs will begin holding hearings in Ways and Means this month to get public input on the proposed cuts from other agencies.
Courtney and Hunt hope the
details of the federal stimulus package also will be finalized this month,
“This process gives us the time to consider potential cuts, weigh all of the financial components, and provide for public input before making some very difficult cuts to balance the budget,” Hunt said. “Schools, human services, public safety, and all state services will be impacted by the effects of this global economic tsunami.”
“The best way for