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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 DHS Officials Brace For Possible Budget Cuts

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.