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Government and Politics
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 DHS Officials Brace For Possible Budget Cuts

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Chris Lehman
/
Northwest News Network
Oregon Department of Human Services Director Clyde Saiki addresses stakeholders during a budget briefing in Salem.

Officials with the Oregon Department of Human Services are telling people who rely on its services to prepare for a potential round of budget cuts next year. Agency leaders Thursday outlined possible cost-cutting scenarios.

Oregon lawmakers are expected to face a shortfall of around $1.5 billion if they want to maintain current service levels. That would hit large agencies such as DHS especially hard.

DHS has prepared a potential list of cuts that would trim more than $320 million from its general fund budget. DHS Director Clyde Saiki told a gathering of service providers that it won't be pleasant.

"What it really comes down to is making a decision nobody wants to make,” he said. “And really, it's 'what's the best of the worst.'"

Saiki noted that lawmakers rarely make across-the-board cuts so some agencies could be more affected by budget cuts than others.

Lawmakers will craft a two-year spending plan starting next February.