Education Day at the Capitol
February 21st, 2011

Greetings,

This week you will find my update on the March Forecast that came out recently. I focused on this because it is an important tool to understand the state’s financial situation now and for the next biennium.

Monday, February 21st, was education day at the Capitol. Organizations and individuals flocked to the Capitol to show their support for essential school funding and educational programs that work. Because of the budget shortfall, the next two years will be especially grim for our children and their schools. Many districts will close schools, lay off teachers, increase class size or reduce school days.  The Governor and the Legislature are working on ways to make your tax dollar go further, but school funding is so low that such improvements can only help, not fix, our difficulties.  Education is crucial to economic recovery and Oregon's long term prospect for good paying jobs.  We must do better. Part of the solution involves restoring systems so that local communities can support local schools as well as making school systems as efficient as possible. Give us your other good ideas.

Phil

 

Bogus Travel Emergency

The Attorney General’s Office reports on a common email scam. The scam email describes a travel nightmare sent from a friend: "Help! I've been robbed while visiting London and desperately need your assistance!" read more here.

Have you had your paycheck garnished?

Economic Fairness wants to hear from you. Click here to take their garnishment survey.

Government Waste Hotline

The Statesmen Journal reported on the Secretary of State’s Government Waste Hotline. The hotline helps direct auditors to areas in need, “The hotline has gathered tips of fraud, waste and abuse since 1995. Those tips are then passed on to auditors for investigation….” Read more.

Government Waste Hotline is (800) 336-8218 or report complaints online at fraud.oregon.gov.

U of O Events with Potential Effects on the Neighborhood

Check out this bi-monthly publication containing upcoming events and activities at the University of Oregon that may affect its neighbors. Click here.

Revitalizing Oregon

Oregon House Democrats released their plan to Revitalize Oregon Friday the 18th of February, setting strong priorities in three key areas as the 2011 Legislative Session begins:

  • Putting Oregonians back to work
  • Protecting Education Funding
  • “Paying as we go” for any new programs, tax credits or tax breaks

Read the full plan here.

Ducks Honored on House Floor

Legislative Report

Whether the outlook is overcast, sunny or a downright blizzard it has been my tradition as Chair and now Co-Chair of the Revenue Committee to report back on the latest Revenue Forecast.  I know the information can be a bit dry, but it gives us a sense of how Oregon’s economy is doing and how that will affect services Oregonians rely on.  Just like a weather forecast the actual outcome isn’t always completely accurate, but it is a tool that we use to help us plan for the future.  

This is the second consecutive forecast that shows a slowly, but steadily improving economy. The general outlook of the State Economist is positive.  He reported that analysts are growing more confident of the economy and the chance of a double-dip recession is declining. Just as most Oregonians smile at even a partly sunny forecast on the weekend, this chance of good times to come is a welcomed change from the doom and gloom forecast I have been accustomed to reporting over the last few years.

For the last 14 months, the state has maintained a 10.6% unemployment rate, which means the Oregon economy created at least 1,500 jobs each month to compensate for new jobseekers.  Oregon has seen four straight months of private sector job increases. The forecast projects that if Oregon can add 2,900 jobs per month, on average, the state’s unemployment rate could fall to the seven percent range by 2014. For now, many Oregonians continue to be in serious financial distress.

For the upcoming 2011-2013 biennium Oregon is expecting $13.77 Billion in total revenue for the state’s general fund. These funds will be spent on schools, health care and other vital services. We are $3.5 Billion short of what is needed to maintain our state’s current programs and a billion dollars short in actual dollars to spend compared to the current biennium.

Weather forecasts tend to become less reliable when storms threaten our skies; recessions do the same for revenue forecasts.  I believe the steadiness of the recent forecasts show that our economy is improving and that we can proceed with the cautious belief that the worst is over.  Stay tuned.

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