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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.

Kitzhaber Challenges Lawmakers To Pass Additional Pension Cuts, Tax Hikes

Office of the Governor

On the eve of a new state revenue forecast, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is putting pressure on state lawmakers to reach a deal over taxes and public pensions. The Democrat proposed a compromise Wednesday aimed at pleasing Republicans and Democrats in the legislature.

Majority Democrats have already approved cuts to public retiree pensions. But Republicans said the cuts weren't deep enough. GOP lawmakers say they won't go along with the tax hikes Democrats want without additional pension cuts. Democrats can't pass those tax hikes without at least two Republican votes.

Governor John Kitzhaber calls the situation an impasse. He's proposing tax hikes be paired with one more recalculation in the public pension system. It would apply only to former public employees who have not yet reached retirement age. He says that's the best way to minimize cuts to education and human services programs.

"Or we need to simply balance the budget with existing revenues and go home," the governor says. "It's not a complicated choice."

Democrats in the House and Senate gave generally warm reviews to the governor's plan. Republicans said they liked some parts and not others. But the largest state employees union called the proposal illegal and unfair.

On the Web:

Gov. John Kitzhaber's statement - Office of the Governor