Oregon agencies make potential plans for budget cuts

Oregon

Governor Kate Brown asked state agencies to work on budget reduction exercises

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — State agencies are undergoing budget reduction exercises in the face of Oregon’s projected $3 billion budget shortfall.

In a press release sent out on Monday morning, Governor Kate Brown indicated that the coronavirus pandemic could impact the current budget period in a reduction of $3 billion. She said she has directed state agencies to prepare prioritized reduction plans equaling a 17% reduction for the upcoming fiscal year.

However — no final decisions have been made.

Oregon State Police submitted its plan to Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday. OSP listed 200 job cuts and pinpointed nine offices to be closed. 

Captain Tim Fox has served with OSP for nearly 30 years and said this isn’t the first time they’ve had a budget reduction exercise and it probably won’t be the last. But he hoped the plan won’t become a reality. 

“You know it makes it very difficult—if not impossible—for us to do our job when we’re spread this thin,” Fox said. 

The Oregon Department of Human Services also held a meeting Tuesday morning to announce potential cuts. 

“It is not a list we enjoy putting together,” said Eric Moore, department CFO. “At the level of reduction at this list, trying to do the least harm is very, very difficult.” 

If Oregon state agencies are forced to cut 17% of their budgets for the fiscal year starting this July, DHS would lose $325 million in state money and millions more in federal dollars. 

“Every general fund dollar in DHS is matched with two federal dollars,” explained DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht. 

DHS plans to make reductions to programs that have the least impact on Oregonians such as those that haven’t been implemented or started. And the budget exercise sets nothing in stone: it’s meant to provide a starting point as the governor and the legislature work together to make the final budget decisions. 

Pakseresht said he’s hopeful cuts won’t be as deep as projected, especially now that 32 counties have applies for the first phase of reopening. 

“There are many unknowns including how Oregon’s economy performs as it gradually reopens and whether additional federal funding will be provided,” said Pakseresht. 

Balancing Oregon’s budget is a tedious, long process. Pakseresht said budget cuts will be necessary but the extent won’t be clear for several more weeks when the state’s May and September revenue forecasts are released. 

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