The tradition persists, session after session: The Joint Ways and Means Committee, all 25 members, goes on a road trip. Over the next two weeks, the committee will host public hearings in four locations around the state.
The goal, according to committee leaders, is to get public comment on the state's two-year budget. Because of the down state of the economy, legislators can expect to get an earful from constituents about proposed budget cuts.
Ways and Mean co-chairs released their proposed budget last month.
Earlier this week, the House passed the K-12 budget, with less money than school advocates had hoped. Public safety and human services allotments likely will see the same fate, as will the higher education budget.
Democrats expressed disappointment at the schools budget amount, but it nevertheless was an impressive feat to pass a K-12 budget bill this early in session with the requisite bipartisan support – including exactly 16 yes votes from each of the House Republican and Democratic caucuses. Republicans touted passage of the K-12 budget early in the session to give local school officials more time to adjust.
The Ways and Means Committee will discuss the entire budget during its community hearings, which kick off in Portland at the Sylvania campus of Portland Community College April 19 at 5 p.m. The committee has scheduled stops in Medford, Bend and Newport. The schedule is below (image of schedule).