What Would You Do With $128.8 Million?

Evan Manvel

This morning the state released its latest fiscal forecast. The crystal ball predicts Oregon will bring in $128.8 million more than previously expected during the 2011-13 budget period.

A coalition of 10 labor and other organizations (including Our Oregon, OEA, SEIU, Oregon PTA, Oregon Health Care Association, OLCV and AARP Oregon) called on the legislature to spend the extra money on the following:

These funds should be used now to limit cuts to schools and services that the middle class depends on, like long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, clean air and watering [sic] monitoring, and youth correctional facilities, which keep our communities safe.

These precious dollars should not be used to fund tax breaks that primarily benefit those who are still prospering, even in this troubled economy. In addition to taking a critical look at the tax breaks that are currently on the books, legislators should refuse to vote for new tax giveaways for the well off.

Governor Kitzhaber's press release included these statements:

We must take this opportunity to integrate and streamline state services like health care and education to deliver better outcomes and reduce costs, and we need to budget adequate reserves to leave a cushion for future revenue fluctuations.

As legislative leaders agreed earlier this week, the top priorities for additional revenue are restoring funding to programs within the Department of Human Services and public safety programs.

The press releases coming out of the offices of the House Co-Speakers and President Courtney seem to concur - the money will help fill some holes in the state's most critical needs, rather than being used to increase tax breaks. Apparently the Governor's budget summit at Mahonia Hall worked, though details will likely still need to be hammered out.

If you had your druthers, where would you spend the money?

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    How about restoring funding for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)? We don't need more homeless and destitute women and children on the street.

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    what $128.8M? that's not cash; that's a forecast. and it's changed hugely from just 2 months ago. the economist also warned that revenues in May are quite a bit below what they expected, so the close of session forecast could change yet again.

    it's like everyone was sitting around with press releases & waiting for whatever number to plug in. i know we could use another $128M, but the political opportunism here on both sides of the aisle is scary.

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    How will they account for the new $40m shortfall on 09-11?

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    I would want them to take advantage of being able to breathe for a second to make some true and significant change in Oregon's tax structure so that this moment is not fleeting -- like what Sara Gelser is doing to change the taxation of some properties, like some real substantial change to the kicker -- changes like that. Like taking advantage of having a governor with a backbone to take on Measure 5.

    Makes me think of that moment in the Social Network -- 128 Million isn't cool, what's cool is 1 billion.

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    I agree in part with T.A. Haven't the last dozen or so revenue forecasts been completely off? I would hate to see us setting ourselves up for more pain, disappointment and cuts further on down the line.

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    Stop the idea of funding illegals school funding for college.

    Spend that, and more on real world job creation that Oregon use to lead, LOGGING, for schools and roads.

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    I’d make two investments in Oregon’s future.

    First, I’d buy and give a laptop computer to every public high school student in Oregon: roughly 220,000 high school students times $500 per laptop is $110 million.

    Second, I’d give grants of $8,500 each to 2,212 public high school students in Oregon to pay the fees of existing study abroad organizations for each of the students to spend a year studying in a foreign high school. That cost would be the remaining $18.8 million.

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