Senator Jeff Kruse - May 24th, 2013


Senator Jeff Kruse
R-Roseburg, District 1

Phone: 503-986-1701    900 Court St. NE, S-315 Salem Oregon 97301
Email:     Website:

 Working Hard For You



MAY 24, 2013



We are within a week of reaching the tipping point of this Session, if indeed we are going to be able to finish by the date required in the Constitution.  Keeping in mind the only thing we are actually required to do is pass a balanced budget, and also keeping in mind the budget does not have to be truly balanced until the last day of the biennium.  With this construct what still needs to be decided are issues around expenditures, revenue and PERS reform.  The reason an agreement needs to happen soon is the fact it takes a fair amount of time to process all of the paperwork once the deal is done.


The dynamic changed somewhat last week with the release of the revenue forecast.  Many of us were projecting an increase of one hundred million dollars and it came in at slightly over two hundred seventy million dollars.  One thing we know about the forecast is it is never accurate, nor should it be expected to be as it is anticipating economic activity for the next two years.  I do find it curious that the forecast magically matched the new revenue requirement in the Governor’s budget.  What this means potentially is a budget can now be created that would appear to be in balance without any new taxes.  This would also mean we would not have to do any real reform to the PERS system.


The one sticking point is still the hospital provider tax, which requires a super majority vote.  When one adds the federal Medicaid match dollars, this is over one billion dollars in the budget.  This bill has already passed in the House and so far the Senate President has not scheduled it for a Senate vote.  The issue is the fact the Senate Republicans have made it very clear we will not pass it without some real PERS reform.  Interestingly about half of the Senate Democrat caucus would be willing to support some real reform if given the opportunity to vote on it.  This is where we are currently stuck, as the Senate leadership seems to be unwilling to engage in any real discussions.  This was further complicated by the fact the Governor, last Thursday, said no more PERS reform was needed.  The frustrating aspect of this is all of the measures currently put on the table are simply focused on this budget cycle and do nothing to solve the long term, systemic problems with the system.  It should be our responsibility, as a Legislative Assembly, to look beyond today and solve problems we know exist before they become unmanageable. 


This next week all substantive committees, with the exception of Rules and Revenue, will have finished their work for the Session.  At some point over the next few weeks I will try and publish the complete list of the bills we passed and highlight what I consider to be the most important ones.  The one caveat to this is the fact some of the more controversial bill in both Chambers have been sent to the respective Rules Committees and we may not know their ultimate fate until we are actually done.  Hopefully by this time next week I might be able to give you a clearer picture of what the actual end game will be.


The Legislature is actually taking a three day weekend, which is somewhat unusual.  It is, however, Memorial Day weekend so I have no issue with it.  I do want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank all who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect our country and give a special thank you to the families of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Freedom is never free, and those who stand a post to protect us deserve our respect.




Senator Jeff Kruse







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