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OR, WA legislatures grapple over budgets

By   /   May 14, 2013  /   No Comments

Lawmakers in Salem expect to get an updated budget forecast this week.

Lawmakers in Salem expect to get an updated budget forecast this week.

By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog

PORTLAND – Tis the season for budget wrangling.

Oregon and Washington state legislatures are struggling to pass multi-billion dollar budgets that pit the typical showdown of conservatives looking to cut spending and progressive lawmakers hoping to increase taxes.

In Oregon, Democrats are proposing tax increases on the wealthy and corporations that would net $275 million for schools and other government services. But the Democrats need Republican support because any tax increase requires a super majority vote. And Republicans are arguing deeper cuts to the Oregon Public Employee Pension System is a better budget solution.

The legislature has already passed and the governor has signed into law cuts to the PERS cost of living increases. But Republicans are adamant that further discussion on PERS reform is needed. And some question if there really is a need for additional revenue.

A new quarterly forecast that will set the stage for what’s needed in the upcoming budget is expected to come out of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis this week.

State Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, said Monday during the House session that the state is expecting an additional $2 billion in revenue for the next 2013-15 biennium.

“Maybe $2 billion of additional revenue is enough,” he said.

The Democrats failed to get GOP support in the House last month for their tax increase proposal and instead the chamber unanimously passed a plan to stop offshore tax havens.

In Washington, lawmakers returned to Olympia on Monday for a special session after failing to finish the job by the end of the regular session. Gov. Jay Inslee is calling on lawmakers to focus on transportation funding and a new operating budget during the special session, according to the Associated Press.

For more information on the respective state budgets, see below:

Oregon:

  • Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s 2013-15 budget .
  • Co-chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee budget presentation 
  • Kitzhaber has called on lawmakers to come together to work out a budget deal, according to the Oregonian. The paper also reports legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle are meeting behind closed doors, trying to work out a budget and PERS solution.

 

Washington:

  • Inslee narrows the special session focus, according to KPLU.org
  • Inslee’s budget priorities press conference
  • Republican response to Inslee’s budget priorities

Contact Shelby Sebens at Shelby@NorthwestWatchdog.org

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