Problem

 

Despite record revenues, Oregon faces a $1.4 billion deficit in its 2017-19 budget

Background:

  • Oregon’s revenues have grown nearly 40 percent since 2011, faster than almost any other state, providing state government the most revenue it has ever had.
  • Revenue growth, driven largely by economic expansion, has enabled investments in key programs including K-12 and post-secondary education.
  • But expenses, especially overhead expenses, are growing faster than revenue leading to a $1.4 billion budget deficit.

Solution

The Brighter Oregon coalition wants to put the state in a position where it can make transformational investments in programs and services key to the state’s future. These include:

Improving educational outcomes, particularly high school and postsecondary graduation rates

Ensuring adequate safety nets for Oregonians in need.

Brighter Oregon proposes a three-pronged approach:

1.

Grow the economy

The most reliable way to generate new revenue for public services is to continue the growth of Oregon’s economy. Economic growth generates billions in new tax dollars, puts people to work, lifts them out of poverty and meets the needs of Oregon families. Oregon’s economy is working as evidenced by the increased revenue for the state and the record-low unemployment rate of 4%.

2.

Oregon must learn to live within its means

Legislators in Salem must live within their budget like we all do. State revenues are projected to continue growing but public spending has been growing at a much faster rate. This is particularly true in the areas of employee compensation, especially pension and health care costs.

3.

Invest in the future of Oregon’s children

Compared to other states, Oregon ranks 18th in per student K-12 education spending but 48th in graduation rates. To support new revenues Oregonians must be convinced investments will achieve the educational outcomes – like high school graduation – all our children deserve.