Republicans propose budget that protects core services

Press Release from Senate and House Republicans

Back to Basics Budget lets service areas replay 2007-09 funding levels

House and Senate Republicans announced a Back to Basics Budget plan on Tuesday. The plan funds a full school year, protects prioritized service areas like public safety and human services by giving them the same funding levels they received in the last two year budget and creates a $1.374 billion surplus for targeted legislative add-backs and contingency reserves.

“This budget protects our most important priorities: quality education for our kids, safe neighborhoods and services for the most needy and vulnerable,” said Senator Chris Telfer (R-Bend). “Republicans applied the same philosophy that Oregon families and small businesses are applying to their budgets, funding what is most important with what we have, tightening our belt and being fiscally responsible. If we do those things, we don’t have to talk about raising taxes on Oregon families and small businesses in these tough times.

Highlights of the Back to Basics Budget include:
“¢ The plan starts with the assumption that Oregon government does not need to increase taxes in order to provide the services that Oregonians need and value.
“¢ The plan funds K-12 education with $6.245 billion, holding schools harmless with a zero cuts budget that ensures kids can receive a quality education through a full school year.
“¢ The plan protects public safety, human services and other core functions by giving them at a minimum the exact budget they had last cycle.
“¢ The plan leaves a $1.374 billion surplus for legislative add backs, enhancements, contingencies and reserves.
“¢ The plan leaves $457 million of our state reserves intact.

Republicans built the Back to Basics Budget using a philosophy that funds the most important, core services first. This budget creates a starting point that holds services like K-12 education, higher education, public safety agencies and human services providers harmless from any cuts from their 2007-09 funding levels.

To protect these priorities, the budget uses $911 million in Federal Stimulus money and $457 million from the Rainy Day and Education Stability Funds, leaving $457 million left in reserves. The budget also uses $429 million in savings and efficiency enhancements. After funding each core service at their 2007-09 level, the budget leaves $1.374 billion for the legislature to make targeted add-backs to the most important priorities.

“The way Oregon budgets must be fixed,” said Senator Frank Morse (R-Morse). “Past practices are simply not sustainable. Government must find ways to improve performance and demonstrate the ability to reduce costs. Ultimately, core services and functions of government can be preserved without raising taxes. “

In the past, the legislature has started the budget discussion with an automatic, no-questions-asked increase to state agencies, called the “Essential Budget Level.” The legislature doesn’t require agencies to come before the budget writing committee and justify why they need increases in their base levels of spending like a business would. The Legislature has handed out increases without asking tough questions about what drives the cost of state government and how we can better prioritize. The result is out-of-control spending and insurmountable deficits. In fact, over the last ten years our state budget has increased by more than 75%.

“This is a fundamental change to the way the legislature budgets,” said Representative Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg). “Oregonians are hurting and having to make tough choices in their budgets at home and in their businesses right now. We think Oregon government should be making the same tough decisions and start managing taxpayer dollars with responsibility.”