Revenues will be short $560M of expected government spending
n the first day of the 2023 Legislative Session, House Republican Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) and Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) sent a letter to Senate President Rob Wagner (Dâ€“Lake Oswego) and Speaker of the House Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) to address the legislatureâ€™s fiscal responsibility.
Even Senator Elizabeth Steiner (D-Beaverton) acknowledged in committee that windfalls of free moneys have been used to start programs with an ongoing expense. It is adding to the shortfall if they are to continue, which is projected to be $560 million to cover a $30.7 billion budget to simply maintain current levels of programs and services.
â€œIn December of 2022, the Legislative Fiscal Office and the Chief Financial Office indicated revenues will be short about $560 million of expected government spending this upcoming fiscal biennium. When government spending gets out of hand, government should revisit its scope and size,â€ said the Republican Leaders in the letter. â€œThus, we are requesting that the Legislative Assembly carry out its duty and obligation to fiscal responsibility in this Session. We request the Assembly exercise its authority and hold committee hearings which identify fiscal issues and solutions, ensuring that government spending is effectual.â€
The Republican Leaders highlighted five areas of concern looking ahead to the Legislative Session:
- American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) - the State received $2.6 billion in
subsidies from the federal government as part of the nationâ€™s Covid-19 recoveryâ€¦The spending of this money has, it appears, greatly exacerbated the recent outbreak of inflation, not just in Oregon, but nationwide. Accordingly, we request that the Assembly investigate potential waste, abuse, and mismanagement of Covid relief funds.
- Housing and Homelessness - Last fiscal bienniumâ€¦after nearly $1 billion in funding, and limited, significant improvements, we question
whether the monies allocated to resolve the problem are effective, or whether the appropriations are simply going to the coffers of private and non-profit entities. As such, we request a committee hearing and update to address the pitfalls between significant government spending on housing policy and the lack of meaningful progress.
- Wildfire Relief - The State has both appropriated and received funds for wildfire recovery in response to the 2020 Labor Day wildfires. This includes $422 million in federal funding. As wildfires continue to be a growing, yearly concern we request an update as to the allocation of recovery funds and an audit to ensure that recovery funds are going to the families and communities that need them most.
- Drought Relief - More than one-third of Oregonians have been in severe drought and according to the federal government, more than half of Oregon is in â€œsevere to exceptionalâ€ drought. While this Assembly has allocated â€¦ about $100 million in December of 2021â€¦ we request a spending update which addresses what, if any, continual protections are planned for the forthcoming biennium.
- K-12 Summer Enrichment - In 2021, the legislature provided $200 million to support summer credit earning and enrichment opportunities for students in grades K-12 across the state. In 2022, the legislature approved an additional $150 million. Yet school districts already received federal funding from ARPA â€“ about $1.1 billion. Further, while the Department of Education claims the program has been a success, reporting has clearly shown that the program has struggled to maintain adequate staffing and access. While our Caucuses uniformly support public education funding, we request an audit of the enrichment program to ensure earmarked revenue is spent to its best effect on public education, with measurable results and a meaningful impact. Simply, Oregonâ€™s bottom-tier education funding status is unsustainable for long-term enrichment.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
â€œThese five areas are, perhaps, the most pressing. Yet they are not the only areas worth financial investigation at the state level. A general audit of government expenditures is prudent given the economic forecast of continued inflation, recession, and deficit spending. Oregonâ€™s fiscal outlook is on the verge of a downward spiral. We must ensure that government spending is effective and that we eliminate any wasteful, ineffectual appropriations. To that end, we request a public and transparent committee process, early in the Session, to provide clear oversight from the Assembly, to further understand public expenditure, and to discuss the role and scope of government,â€ said the Republican Leaders in the letter.
Another area might be the Medicaid budget that will need an additional $700 million to cover the expiring temporary federal pandemic aid. The aid was to get states through extra expenses a pandemic would have, so now that the pandemic is over, shouldnâ€™t those expenses go away and the funds returned to the Medicaid budget?
|Post Date: 2023-01-23 06:36:49||Last Update: 2023-01-22 12:39:38|