Balancing Oregon’s budget

Proposed cuts to meet Oregon’s new budget restrictions include closing prisons, releasing inmates, and cutting programs for the elderly.

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After Gov. Kulongoski’s call to cut nine percent of state spending, Oregon officials released a list of potential budget cuts.

It’s unclear what the cuts, which include shutting down three prisons and stopping in-home care for 2,000 elderly people, would mean for the state, were they implemented.

Lawmakers who have been through similar budget reductions say multiple prison closures and wholesale inmate releases are doubtful. One possibility is to use some of the $50 million in emergency and reserve funds to keep the prisons operating.

“Three prisons — I don’t think we can do that,” said Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, co-chairman of the committee responsible for drawing up the state budget. Any savings would be quickly eaten up by the cost of releasing so many convicted felons, he said.


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