State finds $3.3 billion under couch

New state financial report details $3.3 billion in available funds
By Oregon Senate Republicans

Salem, OR — Oregon’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) released by the Secretary of State’s office last week states that more than $3.3 billion in “unreserved, undesignated fund balance”¦ was available for spending[1].” A budget plan pushed by Senate Republicans calls for $133 million from those balances to help finance this cycle’s budget in a way that protects the economy and preserves important services.

“We can protect important government services and Oregon’s economy by using the money already at the state’s disposal,” said Senator Chris Telfer (R-Bend). “This report confirms that there are billions of dollars for use at the legislature’s discretion. We should use a small portion of this money to protect K-12 classrooms, higher education, services for the disabled and public safety.” The CAFR, prepared by the State Controller’s Division at the Department of Administrative Services to analyze the position of the Oregon’s fiscal affairs, states:

“As of June 30, 2009, the State’s governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $4.4 billion. Of this amount, approximately 25.1 percent was reserved for nonspendable items, such as inventories and permanent fund principal, or for specific purposes, such as debt service. The remainder was classified as unreserved, undesignated fund balance and was available for spending, subject to statutory and constitutional spending constraints.”[1]

Since by definition lawmakers write statute, any statutory constraints can be addressed.

“This is money that has piled up in agencies from over-collected fees and it is revenue that has not been expended as scheduled,” said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “These are taxpayer dollars that should never be left stranded in the bureaucracy, but shifted to pay for services Oregonians need. If we use this money wisely, we can leave the economy to grow and recover.”

Senate Republicans have announced a budget proposal for the February session, saying that there are ways to balance the budget without increasing unemployment or drastically cutting services in the midst of a historic recession. See an outline of the budget here:
http://www.backtobasicsbudget.com/images/Back_to_Basics_Budget.pdf

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Posted by at 02:25 | Posted in Measure 37 | 27 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • eagle eye

    Interesting how the supposedly spendthrift legislature and bureaucracy have supposedly been hoarding all this money. This sounds like about 10% of the all-funds budget.

    And now it’s a Republican who is complaining that this money is being left “stranded”, instead of being used to pay “for services Oregonians need”.

    Soon the Democrats will be talking about the “reckless Republicans”, I’m sure.

    Stranger and stranger!

    • Steve Plunk

      Eagle my friend, If the money is actually there would you agree we should use it and ditch this tax increase? Keeping an ending fund balance may make sense up until we have a financial “crisis” such as this. But before raising taxes I would want to use all other available resources, especially during a recession.

      • eagle eye

        I’m skeptical that it’s actually there, not that much money. I don’t actually know what is in those accounts and what they’re for. I have a friend at UO — not retired, not the retired prof, though I have to say, it sounded like ret prof knows what he’s talking about — my friend says that there’s no way they have 10% of their annual budget just sitting around ready to be tapped, that would be about $50 million, he just laughs at that. That’s extrapolating quite a bit, I know.

        I’ll bet there is SOME actual reserve money that can be tapped. Didn’t Ted K make them keep some of the rainy day fund in reserve? But $4.4 billion? I’m really skeptical. $440 million? Maybe. $150 million? Probably.

        I doubt that there is enough to make up the whole difference. Frankly, I don’t believe much that I hear from either side. (I mean the legislators, though I could also mean the advocates.) For one thing, I don’t think they know what they’re talking about, and for another, I don’t trust them.

        Probably, the legislature will come back if this fails and stitch something else together. Trouble is, are they capable of doing something that isn’t totally half-assed?

        The truth is, I’m very ambivalent about the whole business. I’m not going to tell anyone how I think they should vote, and I haven’t quite made up my mind yet. Probably I should just fill the thing out and be done with it.

        • Steve Plunk

          I agree there’s not likely the 4.4 billion available but 700-800 million? That’s enough to cover the proposed tax increase. What we need is a complete discussion of the pros and cons of what the Republicans are talking about. When the economy recovers we could then talk about rebuilding these ending fund balances.

          • eagle eye

            My unexpert, ignorant guess is about 1/3 of the money could actually comfortably come from reserves — more like $250 M. But I really don’t know enough about it, what those reserves really mean. I agree it should be discussed if the tax increases fail.

            I think Ted K was smart to hold back some of the rainy day fund. A real fear I have is that economic recovery is nowhere near, that the world financial crisis is ongoing and coming back to eat us again. In that case, Oregon could face a real financial crisis down the road. The present situation might just seem like a blip.

          • r UO sp

            A 4-way split would probably do it pretty well, $800 million from reserves, service cuts, new taxes (temporary), and employee givebacks (ditto, all temporary). That’s something like 1.25% of the general fund budget from each source. if I have it figured right. Half in cuts and half in enhanced revenue. It wouldn’t kill anyone. 2.5% in cuts. It’s starting late in this fiscal year, true.

            Looking at my “old” department at UO: I don’t believe for a second there’s any 10% reserve hanging around (ee’s rough number), either in the dept budget or up above. They barely managed to balance the budget this year, thanks to bigger classes, higher tuition, more students paying, the state paying less, and federal stimulus funds. A lot like what I sketched above, actually. (Interesting that the state wanted to spend the stimulus money reserved for higher ed on other things, but the feds wouldn’t let them, bless their hearts!) The budget is balanced, though, within the noise, which is like 2%.

            2%, 2.5%. Doable.

  • v person

    So we are to believe that there is 3 billion and change lying around in state accounts with no purpose? Doesn’t pass the smell test. I imagine that money pays for salaries down the road and/or contracts not yet let. Republicans always seem to believe there is all this money lying around and we can find it if we just look harder. Its like the Easter Bunny and small children. We can’t convince them otherwise.

    • Steve Plunk

      I have seen many CAFR’s and ending fund balances are there. They are not a figment of the imagination. Rather than demean those bringing this up why don’t we get to the facts and see if this will work?

  • v person

    How funny, my boyfriend Doobie and I were just under the couch together, its our special place.

  • Anonymous

    eagle eye said “I’m skeptical ” Denier maybe?

    How is it that you libs can find skeptisism so easily yet are wholy duped and not be the slihgtest bit curious with things like Global warming?

    • eagle eye

      I’m amused that you would call me a liberal.

      As it happens, I know a fair bit about the global warming controversy, but I’m not going to go into that.

      Conflating that with state budget and accounting matters is just plain dumb. Sorry to have to break the news.

  • Anonymous

    And v/dean has a smell test?

    How selective, convenient and opportunist v/dean.

    Well suppose there is 3 billion hidden away?

    That’ll tell how well you smell tester works.

    One thing progressives don’t have is a BS detector.
    But in that void they have wild imaginations.

    • v person

      My friends call me VD for short.

  • оценка недвижимости в москве

    COMMENT_DELETED

    • Anonymous

      Pourquoi écrivez-vous toujours vos commentaires en russe?

      • Anonymous

        I think this is just one of Jerry’s many sock puppets. Whoever these comments belong to probably thinks they’re a clever allusion to the Obama Administration’s supposed similarities with Stalinist Russia. Sad, but, no harm no foul, right?

  • Rupert in Springfield

    The issue is not the exact amount of these funds. The issue is why in the world would you pass tax increases in the middle of a recession before fully investigating the amount of these funds.

    It says a lot to me that assessing the amount of these funds and the implications of using them as opposed to raising taxes was not thoroughly explored first.

    We have had several budget proposals that would have avoided the tax increase and now this.

    Seems to me the legislature just had a reflex action to raise taxes. That tells me they haven’t considered the implications of them at all on the business mood in this state.

    Its real great to sit around and trash business because a some guy on Wall Street got TARP funds. However the legislature should probably not look to them to expand any time soon after they just got through trashing them. Looking into using these funds would have been a hell of a lot less damaging to the economic mood in this state than dumping on business first.

    • v person

      “Its real great to sit around and trash business because a *some guy on Wall Street* got TARP funds.”

      I’m adding that to the understatement of the year list. Some guy? How about the entire banking industry, much of the auto industry, the insurance industry, and lets not even talk about Bernie Madoff or Enron. I’d say business has done a pretty good job of trashing itself the past decade.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >I’m adding that to the understatement of the year list.

        It would be most helpful if you would think for a few seconds before doing the usual Dean pop off.

        One would have to be an idiot to misread so badly as to think I was saying only one guy got TARP funds.

        I have railed against the folly of the program from the outset. You on the other hand supported the program from the outset and yet now you seek to make those who participated in it your whipping boy. How inane.

        The fact is, if some guy, hundreds of guys, millions of guys on Wall Street got TARP has nothing to do with Oregon’s issues.

        Its simply class warfare, a guy on Wall Street getting TARP funds has zero to do with Oregon’s economic problems and you guys who supported all this nonsense now want to use it as a convinient, if irrelivent, whipping boy to get your class warfare game going.

        In other words, you liked spending all the money at the time, but now when its time to pit people against each other you like to go on about bail outs as if they were a bad thing, when you supported them!

        Got it now?

        Good.

        Again – Please think a bit before popping off with your usual nonsense. Your clear lack of thought in an attempt to be clever has made you look a little foolish. Your berating a program you supported and I was against further confirms your lack of thought on the matter.

        It does, however, confirm you as genuine Dean and not the imposter. Maybe take that as the saving grace.

        • v person

          Rupert…you wrote what you wrote. It has nothing to do with interpretation. Its right there in black and white. Don’t blame the messenger here for calling you on it. You stepped into it with your own words. The lack of thought dear fellow, is your own.

          American business, particularly big business, has built a very shabby record for itself over the past decade. And this record included a number of whole industries having to go hat in hand to the Federal government for massive bailouts. Now you say it is “class warfare” for people to favor a mild tax increase on Oregon businesses, even knowing many of those in favor have businesses themselves. Forget about your metaphorical “guy” (which you go on to repeat yet again….wow) getting TARP funding on Wall Street. Consider that a whole bunch of “guys” got TARP funding here in Oregon, and they are now funding the anti tax campaign at a $100K level. Unless you think the Oregon Bankers Association has entirely clean hands here.

          “Your berating a program you supported…”

          Supported? Along with I think every Nobel economist, I *accepted the necessity* of bailing out the banking industry given the gravity of the situation, as in potential meltdown of the US and world economies being a bit too high a risk to run, despite my distaste for Wall Street bankers and my lack of support for their absurd salaries and bonuses.

          You are right. I’m not the imposter, but I predict another inane homophobic comment under my handle will arrive very soon.

          • Steve Plunk

            v person, Rupert did indeed write what he wrote but I interpreted it very different than your literal interpretation. “some guy on Wall Street” is simply a description of someone who likely has nothing to do with the Oregon business facing these tax increases. Holding all business, and especially Oregon business, accountable for the sins of Wall Street, Enron, Bernie Madoff, and whoever else is ridiculous. Ridiculous, yet that’s exactly what you do.

            Before we place any blame at the feet of Oregon business we must first place it at the feet of the Oregon legislature and Governor. The unsustainable growth in state spending is the problem and those are the people who created the problem right here in Oregon. Those are the people asking others to cover for their mistake. Those are the people failing to take any responsibility for the damage they have done.

      • mea bea

        UH….Did you know SOME banks were FORCED in a 3 hr meeting (with Bernanke, I believe) to TAKE TARP Funds….that some banks were FORCED to take TARP funds so they could rescue banks designated by the FED Gov’t?

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >Don’t blame the messenger here for calling you on it. You stepped into it with your own words. The lack of thought dear fellow, is your own.

    Because you took a statement that a guy one Wall Street getting a bail out has nothing to do with Oregon to mean that I was under the impression only one guy on Wall Street got a bailout simply speeks to you being a ninny and nothing more.

    >Supported? Along with I think every Nobel economist

    Oh ok, so to clarify, you still think it was a good idea, and at the same time you think t is appropriate to scape goat those who took part in this good idea.

    Yep, well, that was pretty much my point. Good program one day, Good class warfare fodder the next.

    • v person

      Scapegoat? No, I’m not blaming most Oregon businesses. But nothing to do with Oregon? I wouldn’t go there. Like I said, the Oregon Bankers Association has contributed $100K as of yesterday to the anti 66 & 67 campaign. I did not get a membership list, but according to their web site the OBA includes state and national banks, so I think its fair to assume their members took TARP money. And we should also assume there are Oregonians, probably the wealthier among us, who own stock in bailed out banks and companies outside of Oregon. And for the record, I don’t think any of this has anything to do with whether 66 & 67 are good or bad ideas. Taxation is not to punish someone. Its to pay for public services.

      “Oh ok, so to clarify, you still think it was a good idea…”

      I’ll clarify your clarification. Try to concentrate. It was the *least bad* idea on the table at the time. I would never assign the word *good* to the TARP or any other business bailout program.

  • Ore. Gov’t skeptic

    The CAFR is the result of an audit of the State’s finances at the end of the fiscal year. It is compiled by a team of CPAs and signed off by state executives. I would tend to believe the figures it is claiming. The more important question to me is what should be done with these funds? I would argue that they should be used to reduce personal income taxes in this state. The state’s budget has grown far faster over the years than personal income and the general economy, and it needs to start being reduced. It is at an unsustainable level for a state the size of Oregon and continues to grow significantly in the next biennial budget. Ave. state employee salaries now exceed private sector salaries. The state’s budget never decreases, even during economic downturns. To me this is indefensible. Even more indefensible is the legislatures attempt to extract nearly a billion more dollars from individuals in this state via tax increases. Folks, businesses don’t pay taxes, people do. Increased business taxes will just be passed through to the rest of us. I say reduce the size of state government and reduce taxes on the citizens of this state.

  • libertychamp

    Wow.. now if we could get them to cut spending.. and put some of this money towards the deficit… jeez.. we wouldn’t have to kill small jobs with corporate taxes 66 and 67… the ones that don’t affect the big corporations anyway… do to most of our financial, housing, education, and healthcare industries being subsidized or enriched by the feds..

    God.. I doubt that will happen.. they will probably create a few more spending programs.. so they can blow the money on ineffective, inefficient, opaque welfare programs… and Oregonians will just let it happen..

    I guess I am just getting used to living here again..

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