The state of Oregon has forced furlough days on its workers and cut services to the poor, but it remains a cash cow for private contractors who charge as much as $300 an hour for their services, an investigation by The Oregonian shows.
Reporters reviewed thousands of state contracts and identified nearly $10 billion in state commitments to outside vendors.
Some of those commitments appear to contradict the penny-pinching messages coming from state leaders. Others simply show a state quite willing to pay top dollar when it needs outside help.
Examples include $100,000 to the pro-consumer group OSPIRG to drum up opposition to insurance rate increases; at least $100,000 for diversity training and other employee workshops; and tens of thousands of dollars to a headhunting firm to place help-wanted ads on the Internet and in local newspapers.