Dear Friends & Neighbors,
There's never a slow moment here in
Salem. Last week, the House passed two budget bills that will rebalance the State's budget for the remainder of this
biennium (2007-09), through one-time and ongoing budget cuts. We spent the first two months of this session ironing out those
reductions. Now, we will work on creating the budget for the coming two years. Last month, we received the dismal revenue forecast
for the next biennium: we are facing a shortfall of $3 billion or more. Agency budget proposals that were developed last
summer and fall, in preparation for this legislative session, must be scrutinized with fresh eyes.
If you ever have questions, or would like to
express your opinion, please don't hesitate to contact my office. I know how tough these times are, and I will help if I
Nancy Nathanson, State Representative
At the Capitol
In regular legislative sessions,
legislators can introduce individual bills in addition to those drafted by committees or state agencies. In the last regular legislative
session, 1,677 bills were introduced in the House alone. So far, this year, the count is 1,603. Despite the hours
spent working on budgets, I have introduced several bills for consideration. Here's a brief
description of a few; I'll provide updates in future newsletters.
Helping Oregonians who are hardest hit
I am working on a bill to help make more people
aware of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and help them claim the money that is due. The EITC is a tax credit for low-income working
people. The bill calls for increased coordination among state agencies, and reaching out to the non-profit organizations that join
in this effort, such as United Way and AARP. My proposal is aimed at creating a more aggressive promotion of the EITC in order to get eligible
individuals and families the help they need.
Helping Oregon's small businesses
With small business making up more than 98% of all
Oregon businesses and providing over half of Oregon jobs, it's important to help them remain competitive and
productive. My bill is targeted as an incentive for investing in equipment. Adding or upgrading equipment can
be especially important for manufacturing and agriculture.
For the past few years, our
counties have faced dire financial shortfalls. With the Secure Rural Schools Act due to sunset
in 2011, it's time we take a hard look at how our state and local government programs are structured. I have introduced
a bill that creates a task force to review opportunities to provide services in the most effective and cost-efficient manner.
My bill is up for a public hearing this Friday.
Nancy speaks at a news conference about the high cost of healthcare.
troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, they deserve fair and generous treatment from a public grateful for their service. Oregon
loses millions of dollars providing services to clients who are veterans without knowing they are eligible for federal service or federal
reimbursement to the state or county. Federal aid and assistance remains unclaimed, unrealized, or under-utilized. My
bill ensures that public agencies providing state services will collect appropriate information and claim federal reimbursement or assist clients with
obtaining federally funded services. Agencies will add links to services for veterans on their internet web pages, and will add
information to paper or electronic forms, telephone interviews, etc. During these challenging times, it is essential that
Oregon receives its fair share of revenue from the federal level.
My appointments with visiting advocates and others from our area in the past couple of weeks include: professional
engineers; librarians; a local craft brewer; and university students.
Difficult Budget Decisions
You can find
a full listing of the budget reallocations by going to http://www.leg.state.or.us/comm/lfo/home.htm and clicking on 2/25/09 Update: 2007-09 Budget Rebalance Plan.
Nancy visited by high school students on School-Based Health Care Day
A few notes about the cuts
Keeping students in school
The Legislature allocates
funding for schools, but decisions about classes, programs, and other services are made by the local school boards. The School Day
Restoration Fund, included as part of the budget balancing just adopted, provides some additional money for school districts to finish the entire year.
Legislature used some of the federal “stimulus” money to keep providing human services and help get through the K-12 school
year. Other reserve funds, the Rainy Day reserve and the Education Stability Fund, have been saved to help with the even greater
budget gap we anticipate for the next two years. Some other special funds that had been held in reserve were “swept up” as we
scoured the books looking for money that didn’t seem to be absolutely essential to use in the next four months. In some
cases, a portion of unspent (and unplanned) special purpose reserve funds were used to balance this year’s budget, while leaving a substantial
part of those reserve funds for future use.
In the District
Federal stimulus dollars in our
will soon see federal stimulus dollars at work in areas around Oregon, some of it in the Eugene area. The Oregon Transportation Commission
has already approved three stimulus funded projects in Lane County for highways, and pedestrians and bikes.
The Commission allocated money for bridge and trail
work on the Delta Ponds path system in the Goodpasture Island Road/Robin Hood Avenue area. The Delta Ponds area,
located in House District 13, is a unique place for wildlife, natural systems, and environmental education.
A lively conversation at Brewed Awakening last month.
What: Coffee Meet
Saturday, March 21 . 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Where: Lago Blu Gelato. 2780 Shadow View Drive, Eugene,
of Crescent in the new Crescent Village.
(503) 986-1308, or email@example.com
Scam Alert Network:
Protecting Oregon Consumers
of us have received emails from "royalty" from far off lands asking us to wire them money, claiming that they will pay us back two
fold. Scams like this target people of all walks of life, and they can have devastating consequences. Scammers
are coming up with more and more tricks in order to dupe the public. One new example is intended to trick elected officials,
asking for an autographed photo for their "collection." The scammer can then use the photograph and signature in
order to steal an identity.
Scam Alert Network is a new service started by John Kroger, Oregon's newly elected Attorney General. Regular scam alerts are
distributed to the media, elected leaders, consumer watchdogs, and advocates for the elderly and disabled. You are welcome to
sign up for news from the scam alert network; you can do so by clicking here.
Newsletter: Resources for helping Oregonians deal with financial pressures and difficult mortgage
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