A $1.8 billion shortfall in the state budget means tough decisions will have to be made, whether that’s figuring out how to raise tax revenue or picking which programs and departments get the ax.
The Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee created a budget framework to begin the discussion. That budget allots $7.8 billion to K-12 education. School business officials have calculated that schools need $8.4 billion to maintain current service, and the Oregon Rising campaign is focusing efforts on ensuring that funding does not dip below that level.
The committee is offering the public a chance to weigh in without having to come to the Capitol. Starting Feb. 10, town halls will be held in seven cities: Salem, Portland, Hermiston, Madras, Ashland, Eugene and Tillamook.
Members of the 23-person committee will attend each session. Local legislators and officials will likely attend too. Sign-up sheets before the meetings will include a request for topic, and each speaker gets three minutes. The chairperson will mostly call people in order, but if several speakers address the same topic, the chairperson may skip ahead to include more issues.
“If you want to testify, the best thing to do is to get there early,” said Lynn Buchanan, administrative support for the Legislative Fiscal Office.