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Press Release
May 21, 2009
OREGON MILITARY DEPARTMENT PREPARES FOR LEAN BUDGET YEARS
 
In light of legislative budget proposals for the 2009-2011 biennium, the Oregon Military Department is reviewing cuts it would have to make as the state budget may decrease in the years ahead.

The Joint Committee on Ways and Means proposed a cut to the OMD budget for more than $4.7 million, which is approximately 16.8% of the essential budget level. The cuts could include service, support and operations reductions, four armory closures, and elimination of state personnel positions.

"State funding represents roughly three percent of our overall budget, and that money is used for operations and maintenance," said Brig. Gen. Mike Caldwell, Deputy Director of the OMD. "It's what keeps the armories open."

Caldwell said the effect of closing armories would have a greater and potentially devastating impact on the state as well as municipal and county governments.

"If we have to close armories, the federal government may turn to other states to take missions we could no longer support," Caldwell said.

Federal funds go to the units housed at the armories in order to sustain their mission readiness.
They cover payroll, equipment, construction, and many other fund streams in the state.

"If we lose those missions we lose federal payroll and the tax revenue it brings in, we lose construction money and the jobs it creates, and we lose a large part of our ability to support emergency response," he continued.

The OMD is doing another review of all general funded portions to include the Office of Emergency Management before settling on armory closures.

Caldwell said Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, directed him to "turn every stone and look for other alternatives as we cannot close armories."

The OMD is looking at Coos Bay, St. Helens, Milton-Freewater, Burns, Lebanon, Newport, and Redmond armories for possible closure based on their age and location. One of the greatest concerns for the OMD is the impact on soldiers and airmen and the citizens across the state.

A larger concern is for family members of the recently deployed 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team deploying to Iraq, presently training at Ft. Stewart, Ga. Caldwell said.

"Closing armories on family members who use it as a cornerstone for all types of activities while their loved ones are deployed is a terrible thing to tell these brave soldiers while they're half way around the world," Caldwell said.

Karl Jorgenson, Director of Financial Administration for the OMD, said the budget cuts could not have come at a worse time, as 2,500 of Oregon's soldiers head to Iraq.

"Given what we are looking at, we not only could lose armories but we would also be eliminating Emergency Management capabilities except in the more populated areas of the state," Jorgenson said.

The OMD, like all other state agencies, has submitted budget reduction plans reflecting cuts from five to 30 percent of current budgets. The OMD submitted additional options to the Legislative Budget Office which detailed more personnel cuts in lieu of armory closures. Regardless, those cuts would have consequences for the state.

"When you get to these kinds of reductions it's difficult to make everything work," said Caldwell. "Almost everything we do has a federal match of some sort, so when you start harvesting from General Funds, you lose significant amounts of federal dollars that are no longer in the state."

The OMD recognizes the difficulties legislators face and the severe consequences of the proposed budget.
 
 
Contact Info:
 
Capt. Stephen Bomar
Oregon Military Department
503-584-3885