Oregon’s revenue forecast up again; kicker will kick
On Wednesday, Aug. 23, the state’s Office of Economic Analysis released a new revenue forecast showing Oregon’s economy - and revenue growth for schools and other public services – continues to grow.On Wednesday, Aug. 23, the state’s Office of Economic Analysis released a new revenue forecast showing Oregon’s economy - and revenue growth for schools and other public services – continues to grow. In the recent legislative session, lawmakers increased funding for schools by $800 million — the largest increase ever — and fully funded Oregon’s Medicaid expansion. Now, Oregonians will be receiving $463 million in kicker rebates because revenue growth continues to outperform economists’ expectations.
Despite record revenues many schools had to lay off teachers because the increasing costs for salaries, health care and pensions (PERS) ate up all of the new revenue and then some. Unfortunately, Oregon’s elected leaders made little progress during the 2017 legislative session controlling these spiraling costs. Nothing was done to slow the growing cost of the public employee pension system’s (PERS) huge unfunded liability, which is rapidly approaching 30 percent of payroll for many school districts, state agencies and local government employers. The cost of health care benefits for Oregon state employees is 50 percent higher than the national average, but legislators rejected reasonable reforms proposed to address these costs.
The Alliance continues to work with Brighter Oregon, the Oregon Business Plan coalition, to advocate for cost containment to ensure revenues support schools and other critical services.