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Kitzhaber's Budget Puts Pressure On Lawmakers

OPB News

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber firmly put the ball in the court of Oregon lawmakers when he released his two-year budget proposal Friday. The spending plan relies on savings gained from potentially controversial changes to the state's pension and public safety systems.

Kitzhaber allocates about half of his $16.5 billion budget proposal toward education, from preschool through college. The rest is spent on health care, public safety and other state programs. Both schools and prisons would benefit financially from some of the governor's proposed cost-cutting measures. Those include a cap on cost-of-living increases for public retirees, and as-yet unspecified changes to how non-violent criminals are sentenced.

The Democrat challenged the legislature to implement his proposals.

"It takes discipline and it takes political courage to make these choices in the short term that are going to lead us where we want to go in the long term," Kitzhaber said.

Some leading Democratic lawmakers called the budget plan a "good starting point." The House Republican leader, Mike McLane, applauded the proposed pension changes but expressed concern about a possible weakening of criminal sentencing guidelines.

On the web:

Governor Kitzhaber's budget (