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Entries in Rep. Dennis Richardson (3)

Tuesday
Sep062011

Lawmakers Anticipate Busy February Session

Anticipating a busy 2012 session, lawmakers will hold three more sets of "legislative committee days" before February to tee up issues as they nervously await two more revenue forecasts that could determine whether budget-cutting will be a focus of their attention.

Here are three examples of what we already know will be on the agenda:

Ways and Means leaders Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, and Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, may need to make budget adjustments in February.STATE REVENUE: Taking stock of a volatile state budget is an obvious reason for annual sessions. This time, the stakes will be very high as the state struggles to emerge from a stubborn recession.

August's forecast, released two weeks ago, showed state tax revenue declined by almost $200 million from projections at the end of the legislative session last June. While new State Economist Mike McMullen did not predict an "echo recession," he noted a loss of consumer confidence following congressional wrangling over the federal deficit.

The $200 million drop in revenue can be managed with the reserve legislators wrote into the budget, but deeper declines could mean more cuts.

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Monday
Jul252011

Budget Issues Still Dominate After Session Adjourns

Balancing the budget was the dominant challenge in the 2011 legislative session. It still is an issue today as one Ways and Means leader underlines potentially shaky assumptions that underlie the state's balanced budget for the next two years.

Rep. Dennis Richardson had a hand in crafting the state budget but sees flaws in it.Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, as House co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, was in the back room as budget decisions were made during the session. His recent newsletter says: "To reach a compromise between the Republicans and Democrats of both the House and Senate, so that a budget could be passed, we chose the road of 'assumptions.'"
Richardson rates five of them as risky:

  • Assuming that $239 million of savings will be identified by the Oregon Health Authority’s health transformation initiative.
  • Assuming that $51 million of savings will be identified by the Department of Human Services’ long-term care transformational initiative.
  • Assuming that $28 million will be saved by the Department of Corrections in “unspecified reductions."
  • Assuming that $19 million will be “loaned” from the Common School Fund to the Senior Property Tax Deferral program; the loan will need to be paid back before the end of the 2011-13 biennium, yet there is no source of revenue identified from which to fund the pay-back;
  • Assuming that $310 million from the ending balance will be allocated in the February 2012 session to avoid 7 per cent of additional cuts in agency and program budgets.  
  • Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul112011

A Look at 2011 Legislative Leaders

Much has been written about the just-completed 2011 session of the Oregon legislature, but perhaps not enough about the key political personalities who drove the process and will be in charge when legislators reconvene next february.

Here's our take on key leaders:

Legislative leaders 

Sen. Peter Courtney (left) and Reps. Arnie Roblan and Bruce HannaThe three top presiding officers – Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Keizer; Rep. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay; and Rep. Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg – have received a lot of credit for the reasonable conduct of legislative affairs this session.  They deserve it.  Their personalities, very different individually, meshed well and they combined to avoid the acrimony of the 2009 session. No doubt the nearly even split in control – 30 to 30 in the House and 16 to 14 for Democrats in the Senate left no choice but to reach agreement or get nothing done. That left The Oregonian to posit that split control should be the new norm in legislative sessions.

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