Yesterday, April 17, the Ways and Means co-chairs released there no new revenue budget. It shows that of the 14 budget lines, only two receive less funding than they did last biennium. Natural resources is cut from $413 million to $405 million and consumer and business services is cut from $14.7 million to $13.3 million. All other agencies receive more revenue than last biennium
However, Oregon will have huge cost increases this biennium due to employee expenses including PERS, healthcare and COLA’s and step increases, the increased cost of medicaid, and the cost of voter passed initiatives. So even with an extra $1.5 billion in revenue, without spending reform or new revenue, Oregon will be approximately $1.3 billion short to meet it’s current services levels.
The co-chairs budget assumes no spending cuts or reforms and no new revenue. While the Republicans feel this is a political document meant to scare people into accepting tax increases, it could just as easily be seen as a political document to scare Democratic office holders into backing spending reform. Including PERS reforms.
Right now the Republicans are criticizing the co-chair budget. They should embrace it. It squarely puts the question to Democratic officials. Do they care about protecting 100% of PERS at all costs over making sure the poor, disabled and elderly have health care coverage.