Fact checking the Oregon $3 billion budget dip

by Dan Lucas

The Oregonian ran an article today headlined “Oregon’s ‘all funds’ budget takes a $3 billion dip”, based on a report that came out yesterday from the state’s Legislative Fiscal Office.

Here’s a fact check on the article:

1. Basic facts in headline – Rating: Wrong! It’s not a $3 billion dip for the All Funds budget. It’s $3 billion just for the Federal portion of the state budget. Harry Esteve’s information in the article is accurate, but whoever created the headline made a mistake. The headline should have read “Oregon’s ‘all funds’ budget takes a $4.4 billion dip”, or “Oregon’s ‘Federal funds’ budget takes a $3 billion dip”.

2. Immediate context – Rating: Misleading/deceptive. The budget numbers being compared are not apples-to-apples. The article doesn’t mention that when comparing the same versions of the budget to the previous budget cycle, it’s actually a $1.9 billion INCREASE (3.4%) in the All Funds budget.  (SEE attached budget chart)

When the legislators left the capitol at the end of the 2009 Regular Session in June 2009, the All Funds budget was $55.9 billion for the budget cycle (2009-11).

When the legislators left the capitol at the end of the 2011 Regular Session last month, the All Funds budget was $57.8 billion for the budget cycle (2011-13). That’s a $1.9 billion INCREASE (3.4%).

Budgets keep moving – The last budget (2009-11) began as $55.9 billion at the end of the 2009 Regular Session. DURING the course of the budget cycle (biennium), the 2009-11 All Funds budget grew by $6.3 billion, ending at $62.2 billion by the end of the budget cycle (last month).

Also, when the article notes “Rocco and his colleagues are now estimating that figure will drop by more than $3 billion” when referring to the Federal Funds portion of the state budget, the article should have ALSO pointed out that $3 billion is exactly what the previous Federal Funds budget grew by DURING the last budget cycle. So, here at the start of the current budget cycle, the Federal Funds budget of around $14 billion is the same as the previous Federal Funds budget at the start of the previous budget cycle.

3. Larger context – Rating: Misleading. Oregon’s All Funds budget has DOUBLED in last 10 years, from the 1999-2001 budget cycle to the budget cycle just completed. Besides the issues noted in #2 above, to just note a “dip” in the ‘all funds’ budget without presenting the larger context presents a very misleading picture. (click here to see a July 2010 Oregonian chart showing state spending has doubled in 10 years)

Even the current All Funds budget has already grown by $2.5 billion since February! Governor Kitzhaber’s All Funds budget in February was $55.3 billion. The budget just adopted by the legislature in June was $57.8 billion – an increase of $2.5 billion in just four months!


Kudos to Harry Esteve’s article: Harry Esteve noted in his article that the Federal Funds in the Oregon budget have DOUBLED in just two budget cycles! The Federal Funds budget went from $8.25 billion in the 2005-07 budget to $17.7 billion in the 2009-11 budget. For a sense of scale: the entire General & Lottery Funds budgets are under $15 billion.

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Posted by at 11:19 | Posted in Media, State Budget | 29 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • 3H

    I look forward to In the News fact checking the headlines on Oregon Catalyst.

    • wnd

      I invite interpretation into what literally defines “3H” – and, his estrous.  

      • 3H

        You wouldn’t be able to handle the truth.  

        • Anonymous

          3H has had demonstrable problems with the truth. He would rather whine and bitch about purported facts he proposes than deal with the easily observable facts that are put in front of him.

          Now, I suppose he will demand proof. This is the way the libs operate. Make a specious statement. When a conservative posts facts at variance with what he says, he demands proof. Conservative posts proof. Lib then denies the facts he is presented with, again demanding proof. This goes on and on with lib occasionally criticizing conservatives language.

          You can’t win an argument with these toadies to Barry Obozo, Harry Greed and Nancy Pelousy…these denizens of Media Matters, Talking Points Memo and Blue Oregon. They will ignore the facts and keep coming back with their senseless little and petty demands.

          • 3H

            Well, not one to disappoint, but what are you talking about?   I will ask (not demand) proof.  Just taking your word for it doesn’t cut it for me.   Do you take me at my word if I make claims?  Most on here would like some sort of evidence.  

            LOL..  criticizing language.. you mean like adolescent tantrums? 

            Or.. do you feel you are above criticism?  That your actions have no consequences?   Or the words you use?   You live in a very insular world.  

          • Anonymous

            See what I mean?

        • wnd

          You can’t even put a handle on your tooth, much less your brain, ****head 3H!

    • Rupert in Springfield

      Oh ok, so that’s where your zaniness comes from. You have confused an opinion blog for a news site. Wow!

      • 3H

        Ohhh…. my mistake. They feel comfortable holding themselves to a lower standard.  That explains a lot.  😉

        Zany I can deal with.  I’ve been called worse on here.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          Editorial and commentary is opinion, thus here or the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, anywhere it has never been held to the same standard as news. If this is a surprise to you all I can say is….wow.

          • 3H

            I think, however, they are more than capable of holding themselves to a higher standard – especially when it comes to something as simple and easy as headlines. I’m not expecting in depth reporting here, and I’m not asking that they be held to the same standard in all things.  Just a little care to not be misleading. Is that asking too much?  I guess I think Conservatives are capable of that and you doubt their abilities.  Dunno.

            Not the end of the world, of course.  And it does give me some amusement .   At the end of the day, I think it’s just funny that they spent so much effort dinging the Oregonian for a bad headline, when their own can be so…. bad.  Maybe you don’t see the irony.    

          • valley dude

            There is opinion based on facts and reality, and there is opinion based on ignorance, deliberate or otherwise. They are both mere opinions, but still aren’t the same thing. But I do now understand better where you have been coming from all this time. 

      • valley dude

        So an opinion blog doesn’t have to be concerned with facts? That explains a lot about Catalyst. 

  • HoboJoe

    These idiots could not manage their way out of a wet paper bag.
    Do the math.

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