Unsustainable Spending Leaves Oregon Ill-Prepared for Slowing Economy

From the House Republican Office

House Republican Leader Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg) said Friday the Legislature’s record-breaking spending last year seriously threatens the state’s ability to weather an economic downturn. State economists have reported there are $153.4 million less available in the General Fund than were available at the end of the 2007 session.

“Despite having $2.9 billion in new revenue, the Legislature passed a huge budget backed by tax increases, fee increases and new government debt,” Rep. Hanna said. “Republicans said this level of spending was unsustainable, and now the revenue forecasts are beginning to prove our point.”

Rep. Hanna said he supports the Governor’s plan requiring state agencies to identify five-percent General Fund savings in their budgets. He’s also calling on the Governor to suspend $12 million in new pay raises for political appointees and $20 million in union-negotiated “step” increases. Rep. Hanna reiterated the need for the Legislature pass the Republican bill to hire a legislative auditor to improve government performance.

“The Governor apparently agrees this budget is unsustainable, and as a result he should realize this isn’t a good time for him to hand out huge pay raises,” Rep Hanna said. “It’s time for the Legislature to adjust the budget and focus on turning-around a slowing economy. The new rainy day fund, itself funded by a tax increase, may not be sufficient to protect programs and services at current levels.”

Rep. Hanna said Republicans will continue to support key Oregon priorities, including small investments needed to provide 24/7 State Police coverage, fund senior in-home care, and restore the “Big Look” task force for land use reform.

“Given the 20 percent increase in new government spending, we shouldn’t have to nickel-and-dime our Troopers, our seniors and our land use system,” Rep. Hanna said. “We need to spend February identifying savings in the budget, funding core functions of government, and placing the rest in the rainy day fund.”