Budget Cuts – OPB’s Think Out Loud Episode

Today’s OPB Think Out Loud episode is dedicated to the current 9% Budget Cut. Check it out here.

Economists may tell you the recession is lifting, but you’d never be able to tell in Oregon. The latest forecast says that the state is more than a half billion dollars short for the current budget cycle. Governor Ted Kulongoski has asked all state agencies how they would cut nine percent out of their budgets. The Department of Corrections proposed closing three prisons — something the governor said he would not accept. However, the biggest cuts will be felt by schools and human services.

In the case of the Department of Human Services, some cuts are off the table, like the ones that get matching funds from the federal government. A spokewoman at DHS says the agency has been very disciplined staying within its budget and weathering a variety of cuts — along with increasing demand —  over the last two years. But, she said, this mandated nine percent cut was simply too big to be able to hold many vulnerable Oregonians who depend on their services harmless.

Do your children go to public school? How will your school be affected? Do you rely on regular help from Project Independence or other program for people who are elderly or disabled? What are your biggest concerns about the proposed cuts?

GUESTS:

9% Budget Reductions Announced – Brokerages Targeted for Cuts Yet Again

From the Oregon DD Coalition:

9 % Budget Reductions Announced!

  • Oregon State Agency Budget Reduction Summary [PDF]
  • Oregon DHS: Seniors & People with Disabilities Budget Cuts [PDF]
  • Oregon Department of Education Budget Cuts [PDF]

“Many of the programs we have fought to create over the past 25 years are either identified for complete elimination or are being seriously damaged by these reductions…  We need to ask ourselves who we are as citizens and develop the political will to create better long term and comprehensive solutions for vital services”Margaret Theisen, DD Coalition Chairperson

Today, the Governor released the list of state agency reduction proposals designed to address the $577 million dollar General Fund hole in the 2009-2011 budget.  The specific reductions in Seniors and People with Disabilities and education are provided above. The Governor and legislative leadership will be reviewing the reductions to determine whether a special session will be required.

The Governor issued the 9% across the board reduction order two weeks ago based on the low May revenue forecast and the pending loss of the enhanced Medicaid match provided Oregon through the stimulus dollars in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

The 9% reduction in Seniors and People with Disabilities means an approximate loss of $44 million General Fund / $45 million Federal Funds and $10 million Other Funds.  As you can see from the narrative in the budget document, there are many challenges in implementing reductions and implementing them quickly enough to minimize the need for additional reductions to meet the budget targets.It is projected that the budget hole for the 2011-2013 biennium will be over $2.5 billion dollars and the projected reductions will be significantly deeper.

What can you do?

  • Contact your Federal Congressional Delegation and urge support for continuation of the higher federal Medicaid match rate that will temporarily offset the budget reductions to people with disabilities and families in Oregon.
  • Stay informed!  Read the Network Action Alerts and GO! Bulletins and take action when requested.
  • Get others to join the Oregon Network.  Our strength is in our numbers!!
  • Attend the local meetings held by your legislators and talk about the importance of the services you receive. Check the DD Coalition website regularly for Fact Sheets and updated talking points.

Special Education: A Guide for Parents & Advocates

Disability Rights Oregon has created an excellent guide to assist you through the Special Education experience. The guide was written to provide parents and advocates with accurate information and answers to questions about special education for children enrolled in Oregon’s public schools from Kindergarten to age 21.

Check out the guide in English or Spanish.

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