Senate GOP pushes balloting for special session

Republicans initiate balloting for emergency special session
— Budget reductions should be based on common-sense priorities, protect education
By Senate Republican Office

Salem, OR — Republicans want to call the legislature into special session in order to mitigate cuts to education. Wednesday afternoon a bi-partisan group of members lead by Republicans officially put in motion the mechanism the legislature can use to call itself into special session. Republicans believe that the across-the-board cuts proposed by Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) are a draconian and blunt way to make the reductions necessary to balance the budget. “Callous over-spending by the majority party has created this massive shortfall, and some reductions are an unfortunate necessity,” said Senator Chris Telfer (R-Bend). “But these cuts should happen carefully and precisely reflecting the priorities of Oregonians, protecting the most vulnerable and investments in K-12 classrooms. That means the legislature must come into session and do what it was elected to do.”

Democrats wrote a budget last year that included a 15% increase in total spending, despite skyrocketing unemployment and a dire economic picture. The state revenue forecast Tuesday revealed that revenue collections have not kept pace with spending dreams, to the tune of a $562 million shortfall. Kulongoski responded by proposing 9% across-the-board cuts. These cuts translate to deep reductions to every agency and state service, regardless of importance or priority.

Senator Frank Morse (R-Albany) called the across-the-board cuts “mindless management of a crisis.”

A vote by the majority of State Senators and Representatives can bring the legislature back into emergency special session. Balloting begins at the request of one State Senator and one Representative. Members of the Senate Republican caucus, Senator Bill Morrisette (D-Springfield), and Representative Ron Maurer (R-Grants Pass) formally requested the balloting process Wednesday afternoon.

“Coming into session gives us the opportunity to protect education funding from unbearable cuts,” said Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro). “The devastating outcome of a 9% across-the-board in our local classrooms is unacceptable. We need to put this budget back in balance based on wise priorities that protect the things that matter most to Oregonians, like funding our classrooms.”

Ballots will be sent out by the Legislative Administrator Scott Burgess as soon as is practical. Upon receiving a majority of votes in both chambers, the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate are required to initiate a special session.