This Week in the Mercury


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Budget Pain Isn't as Painful This Time Around

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Only $377 million more? Thats cool.
  • Only $377 million more? That's cool.
It's strange to call this good news, but some people are: The latest state revenue projections by the Office of Economic Analysis were "only" $377 million off earlier forecasts.

That will trigger a new round of program cuts. But because of Gov. Ted Kulongoski's previous tryst with the machete, whacking out some $577 million, those cuts are not expected to touch substantial programs like schools and social services. Officials plan to tap one-time sources of cash to make up most of the gap, siphoning rainy-day savings and federal aid.

The drop mostly lies with personal income tax receipts, the madly swinging fiscal metric that underlies much of Oregon's finances. You know, because we don't have a sales tax. (It's akin to entrusting the rent money to your father, when your father is a drunk who likes horse-racing and video poker).

But for some folks, there was some really, really good news: Corporate tax receipts are trending $42 million over projections. If that holds, then businesses stand to receive checks credits for the overage about a year from now. Blame the kicker provision that sends back unanticipated tax revenues instead of putting them aside for crises. Like this one. Though the two-year fiscal period isn't complete, yet, the Office of Economic tells me "it's certainly a very real possibility."

Keep reading to see the dueling spin-jos plucked and strummed by our gubernatorial candidates.

Chris Dudley, the GOP hopeful, throws an elbow, and a tired refrain, at his Democratic rival, John Kitzhaber—never mind that Kitzhaber was governor, like, eight years ago.

"We are living with the consequences of his failure to adequately prepare Oregon for our economic future."

Kitzhaber, in response, has put his hands on his giant belt buckle and gives smooches to a few traditional Democratic power groups, letting them know what "Blue Has Done for You".

“It is great to see the governor and legislators come together to keep our schools open and protect the most vulnerable Oregonians. It is a critical time for many Oregonians as we are at the low point in resources and at the high point of need."

Yawn.

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