Budget Debate Kicks Off In Salem

Mar 5, 2013

The stage is now set for a protracted battle over the upcoming state spending plan in Oregon. Legislative budget-writers Monday released a proposal that relies on rolling back tax breaks and reducing benefits to retired public workers. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Ways & Means Co-chairs Representative Peter Buckley (left) and Senator Richard Devlin (right) outline their budget proposal at a state capitol press conference.
Credit Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Both Democrats and Republicans say they want to dedicate about six-and-a-half billion dollars for public schools. And both parties say they can get even more money for education by scaling back cost of living increases in the state's public pension system. But majority Democrats are wary of relying too much on pension savings. The Senate's chief budget-writer, Richard Devlin, says there's no guarantee any proposal would hold up in court.

Devlin: "It's similar to actually trying to thread a needle. Actually, it's trying to thread a needle in the dark."

Democrats also proposed limiting unspecified tax breaks to the tune of $275 million. That drew immediate criticism from Republicans, including state representative Dennis Richardson.

Richardson: "We do not need to raise taxes. We don't have a need to bring in more revenue."

Lawmakers will likely spend the next few months negotiating the final budget outline.

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