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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Revenue Forecast Shows Upswing

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
Several college students were arrested after blocking a hallway in the Oregon capitol. They were protesting a possible kicker tax rebate.

Oregon economists told lawmakers Thursday that a robust economy means they'll have more money to spend on schools, human services and public safety.

The additional revenue is expected to pump another $100 million into K-12 schools in the upcoming budget.

But the improving economy could rip a $473 million hole into the current budget. That's a result of Oregon's one-of-a-kind "kicker" law -- a tax rebate that kicks in when state economists underestimate the amount of revenue in a given budget cycle.

One of those state economists, Mark McMullen, broke the news to lawmakers on the Revenue committee.

"We're the only ones in the state who don't like hearing about the kicker because it shows that we're incompetent,” McMullen said.

But not everybody else is a fan of the kicker. Some college students were arrested after blocking a hallway outside the revenue forecast. They want the kicker diverted to fund higher education.