Governor Kulongoski was at the White City Community Health Center last week to explain the effects of the state’s economy and economics in the future while expressing how his goals could make Oregon a better place to live.
Three areas take 97 percent of the general fund, noted the governor. They are:
- Education- 54%
- Human Services- 25%
- Public Safety- 18%
While the General Fund growth averages 13%, in 2007 things were good and that fund increased 20%. Currently, that increase is only four percent, said the governor. Meanwhile education is increasing six percent, human services is up 28%.
Kulongoski said it appears it could be 2015-16 before the state returns to a 13% growth in the General Fund. “We need to look at long term positioning,” said the governor. He said there are three kinds of recession; one is described as a “V” shape wherein there is a nosedive from the top to the bottom with a dramatic rise back to the top; the “U” shape where there is a period of sitting on the bottom and then a rise back to the top and the “L shape” where huge growth is not seen in the near future and that is what they are seeing in Oregon.
The governor expects the May 15 economic forecast will dip once again from its current decrease of $3.1 billion and this will again affect the three major categories of General Fund spending.
Kulongoski said there is $1 billion in matching funds at the federal level for health care in Oregon. The state needs to put up 40 percent, the federal government will provide 60 percent to expand health care to uninsured children and low income adults.
Currently everyone with insurance or those who can otherwise afford the care, pay for the ever increasing emergency room treatment. It is the highest hospital cost and the one uninsured people call upon for care.
Healthy kids creates over 6,000 jobs, cuts emergency costs. It is a win-win, it makes people and the economy healthier, said the governor. Currently there are 116,000 uninsured children in Oregon.
The governor noted several other items on his agenda in addition to improved health care.
He said Oregon is the leading “green” state in the nation. “We have the highest percent of hybrid cars in the nation and lead in electronic charging networks.” Kulongoski said with a rest area every 60 miles on I-5 and I-80, he is working to get charging stations at these locales. Solar cells are growing and the governor noted discussion in Medford to add solar power at the airport and near the airport.
If we work together, we can come out of this,” said Kulongoski in reference to the economic status of the state.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent