Dear Fellow Oregonians:
The financial condition of our state continues to worsen. According to the official September Forecast, the revenue expected in the current budget cycle will drop by another $482 million. The total revenue expected during this two-year biennium has dropped by $1.7 billion since the cycle began. This growing shortfall will require either $482 million in additional cuts to state expenditures (on top of the $560 million already cut) or additional revenue to fill the hole. There are only two responsible ways to avoid additional cuts -- the Legislature can raise additional revenue or they can allow the taxpayers themselves to vote on raising additional revenue.
The serious nature of these developments is well illustrated by the cuts that have already been taken in state programs. Examples are:
We are faced with a difficult choice. Do we want to continue to fund schools, law enforcement, and critical preventive services like mental health care and substance abuse treatment at these currently reduced levels, or do we want to cut them even further? If we want to maintain these services at their current levels, then we must be willing to pay for them with real sustainable revenue -- without borrowing from future budgets, without accounting tricks, without leaving the difficult political decisions to someone else and without making the 03-05 projected deficit of $1.5 billion worse. If we are not willing to pay for them with real sustainable revenue, they will be cut.
I have already begun the process of cutting $482 million in state funded services. Let me be clear: I do not endorse or support these cuts. I think they are an irresponsible means of balancing the budget. But the longer we wait, the more irresponsible the cuts will be to the citizens who receive the services they represent. With only nine months left in the biennium, a $482 million cut is the same as taking a $1.2 billion cut over a full biennium – or about a 20% reduction in the services that remain. A service cut of this magnitude would mean, among other things:
A full description of these cuts can be found by clicking the “Cuts in State Serivces” button.
The only way that these cuts can be avoided is through legislative action. The Legislature is currently meeting in special session. I do not know what the Legislature will decide to do in this its 5th special session, but I can tell you what I must do if the Legislature fails to act with a real solution to the budget crisis in this state. If they fail to act I will be forced to balance the budget through across the board cuts described here.
Cutting important services is a legitimate path to a balanced budget. It is not the path I have supported in the past, nor is it the path I support now. It is, in fact, a path to a different kind of Oregon than we know today – with a different quality of life, and a different definition of civic responsibility. But, it is a path that we will be forced to take unless the citizens of Oregon can make their legislative representatives understand the need for a different course.
That is where you come in. Unless the Legislature takes a more constructive path than it has to this point, the cuts described here will stand. The legislative leadership must hear from the citizens of Oregon in clear and unambiguous terms, whether you are willing to support new revenue to prevent these additional cuts from taking place.
Your elected representative and senator also need to know your
opinion. You can find your legislator by clicking www.leg.state.or.us
Cuts in State Services