by Jason Williams
Gov. Kulongoski’s 20% budget increase is going to leave Oregon with a $1.3 billion dollar deficit according to preliminary budget analysis. That means the next legislature may have to pass $1.3 billion in new taxes to keep up.
Contributing to the problem is the timing of when Kulongoski’s programs go into effect. For instance, the Governor’s plan for massive expansion of health coverage for kids under 19 does not go into effect until 2008. This is nearly the half way point in the state’s two year budget cycle. The result is that the true costs of Kulongoski’s new programs are not accurately seen in this year’s budget and will naturally double in size in the following budget. How many of these later implemented expenses are in the budget is something that only a handful of people know at this point.
Another factor adding to the upcoming $1.3 billion deficit is the rapid rise of state employees. Kulongoski’s budget adds 2,411 new full-time equivalent state positions. This is five times faster than the previous budget cycle. The average state employee growth rate has been +1,083 new FTE positions every 2-year budget cycle. This means Kulongoski’s budget is double the state average.
We all know where this $1.3 billlllllllion dollar deficit leads us. As soon as the next legislative session begins in 2009 the politicians will immediately decry “We are facing a $1.3 cut in services. We are already cut to the bone. We must empty our jails, empty our schools, and empty our nursing homes unless we have ONE more tax increase, because the four tax increases Kulongoski passed in 2007 wasn’t enough.”
We can avoid deficit spending and service cuts if we don’t overspend during good times, and concentrate on building a more efficient and effective government.