State budget tangled by rules

A divisive issue over whether there is surplus money available in the state budget reveals the complexities of the system.

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Republican legislators claim that there are billions of dollars in surplus money available in Oregon’s budget, supporting their positions that tax increases are unnecessary.

But others say those accounts contain federal grants, bond proceeds and fees that are earmarked to be spent for specific purposes – not funds that can be used for schools and state services.

As deputy Republican leader, Sen. Jackie Winters of Salem said she doesn’t want to get into an argument between some of her Republican colleagues — including Sen. Brian Boquist of Dallas and Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli of John Day — and those officials.

But as a decade-long member of the Legislature’s joint budget panel — and as a three-time subcommittee leader — Winters said state finances are always more complicated than they appear. In human services, for example, she doubts there is money lying around.

Read the full story at the Statesman Journal.

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