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The Oregon Senate has OK'd the budget rebalancing bill
Photos and Story by Dana Haynes
The rebalance has passed the Senate. Whew~
OK: rewind. What is the rebalance?
By constitutional law, states cannot operate at a deficite. The thing the federal government just did? The stimulus plan that pumps up the deficite by several billion dollars? We can’t do that in Oregon.
And Oregon, as you’ll recall, runs on two-year budget cycles. The one we’re in now is 2007-09.
As revenue fell this last few months so, too, must the budgets for state agencies be revamped. In short, the budgets have to be rebalanced from the revenue picture in December to the revenue picture of today.
Put in other words, the state thought it had about $15.9 billion to work with in December. By the March revenue forcast, that was closer to $13 billion. A drop of almost 20 percent.
Here’s a semi-good news for Oregon’s 17 independent community colleges: We took our first cut way back in December, when the governor’s proposed budget called for K-12 schools and the Oregon University System to get a boost in funding for 2009-11, while cutting community colleges.
We got hit again hit in January, when predictions based on the revenue forecast meant every agency had to cut 1.5 percent of their ’07-09 budgets. That was the first cut for most agencies and the second cut for community colleges.
After the March forecast, all agencies were asked to cut yet again. Except community colleges. Now we’ve all but hit twice.
Plus, the Legislature understands that community colleges are a bulwark against a recession. We’re the “first responders” for people laid off, whose companies have folded, or who want retraining. The lawmakers get that we’re an engine that will, in time, help drive Oregon out of the recession.
By a vote of 21 to 8, the Senate passed the rebalancing plan to shave $3.3 billion. It moves now to the House and is expected to pass.
And now lawmakers get down to the really tough job of crafting an ’09-11 budget.