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State Leaders Talk Budget in Central Oregon

The chamber shared concerns that the cumulative impacts of new revenue legislation will add new business taxes, require additional overhead costs, and create new regulations, having an overall impact that will force many businesses to move, close, or reduce the amount of employees they can sustain.

The Joint Ways and Means Committee went on the road to take public input on the state’s budget.  State Representatives and Senators of the committee are responsible for creating and negotiating the state proposed $23.7 billion spending plan for the next two years, 2019 – 2021. One of the roadshow stops was in Redmond where hundreds of local advocates, individuals and businesses addressed the committee. Hearings and work sessions will continue in Salem following the listening tour, and according to state law, the budget must be balanced between revenue and spending before end of session, no later than June 30, 2019.

A few local line items were advocated for, including support for an additional circuit court judge for Deschutes County, COCC CTE program, and OSU-Cascades student success center and Innovation District where private companies will co-locate with the university’s research programs. Other presentations were broader in scope, but would also make an impact locally, including funding for foster care/DHS, Oregon Hunger Response, Oregon Health Plan, State Police, disabilities programs, education funding for K-12, children advocates, emergency preparedness, and more.

If you missed the meeting and want to watch the presentations, click here. If you scroll to 1:39:54 you can listen to Bend Chamber’s President/CEO, Katy Brooks, speak about supporting our higher education partners (COCC and OSU-Cascades), which prime the local workforce, innovation districts, and legislation to help address our child care crisis.

 

The Bend Chamber Advocacy Council also wrote and submitted a letter for inclusion in official comments on the record addressing the cumulative fiscal impact.

Included in the letter was concern about the volume and speed that new taxes and additional requirements that are being overlaid onto our employers and business owners. Chamber members need time to absorb and adapt to these changes.

 

The chamber shared concerns that the cumulative impacts of new revenue legislation will add new business taxes, require additional overhead costs, and create new regulations, having an overall impact that will force many businesses to move, close, or reduce the amount of employees they can sustain. Although Central Oregon is a region of primarily small businesses, we generate a significant portion of the state’s job growth, making it imperative that legislators consider the increased burden to smaller businesses.

 

The Bend Chamber understands that we need to prepare and save for the future and has long supported full funding for schools and higher education institutions. However, the chamber believes revenue generation, savings or diversion of funds should be directly invested in classrooms.

 

Lastly, there are concerns that the structural issues around PERS and health care funding are only going to continue to get worse. This requires more focused investment on the state’s looming debt.

 

If you would like to weigh-in, the Committee is still accepting comments regarding the state budget. You can email comments to waysandmeans.budget@oregonlegislature.gov.

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