Winners and Losers in the 2009 Oregon Budget
As the economic landscape worsens, lawmakers face the daunting task of deciding how to keep Oregon running with a shrinking pool of dollars. The most recent forecast by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis sees the recession deepening over the next 12 months with unemployment increasing beyond the current 7.3 percent with a commensurate decline in state revenue from personal income taxes. Reduced business activity will also cause a drop in revenue from corporate taxes. The "budget hole" for the coming 2009-2011 period is estimated to be at least $1.2 billion.
Last month, Governor Ted Kulongoski unveiled his proposed two-year state budget. The governor is calling for $2 billion in new taxes and fees as well as program cuts to deal with the crisis. More significant, however, is the shift in priorities the governor wishes to enact in the upcoming budget. The governor is urging an expansion of existing tax credit programs to boost investment in green industries like renewable energy and hybrid cars. He also wants to channel dollars into construction projects, expand coverage of children under the Oregon Health Plan and increase spending on college tuition grants. To achieve this, the governor wants to cut programs that provide essential services to thousands of senior, disabled and low-income Oregonians.
Must those Oregonians most in need bear the burden of our budget crisis? Is there a better strategy for getting Oregon out of the economic hole? Jo Ann and Dave explore who are the winners and who are the losers in the governor's budget plan.