I had hoped to do a video message this week, but we've been working on overdrive during this very important stage of the legislative session. As a consequence, and to be sure you get the most up-to-date information, I'm doing this brief written message this week.
Let me start by saying that I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend over Memorial Day and took time to appreciate our service-men and women, both past and present, and to recognize their extraordinary service to our nation. We owe them and their families more than words can well express.
Coming back to work this week, the DHS recommended budget finally was published on Tuesday and passed out of the human services budget subcommittee yesterday. And, while there are many reductions to our budget, the good news is that the committee is recommending investments for DHS above and beyond the Governor's earlier balanced budget proposal.
I'm including in this message the DHS "work session documents" that the members of the legislative subcommittee used this week in discussing our budget. I know many of you are getting questions about where specific programs and services stand in the process, and these documents will give you more information:
As you review the materials related to the current budget proposal, I am sure you will have questions. I would ask you to be patient, as we will be providing you with a simplified, easier-to-read set of documents explaining these budget decisions once final decisions are made.
Until that time comes, I do need to make a couple of important points about the most recent budget proposal:
- First, these are still proposed actions. To become final, they'll need to be approved by the "full" budget (Ways & Means) committee, both houses of the Oregon Legislature and signed by the Governor. On top of that, we have several weeks of the legislative session remaining, and in that time, there still may be changes to the DHS budget.
- Second, in spite of the last revenue forecast going up, Oregon is still in a very serious budget hole. As a result, there are significant program reductions in the DHS budget that will have serious impacts on clients, providers and staff. Some clients will receive notices of reduced service levels as early as this week, bringing home for all of us the reality of our current economic challenges.
Because of what we do, those economic challenges are front and center for most of us every day - whether in your professional life as you work with clients, or on a personal level as we all manage our household budgets. As we work together moving forward, please know that your work is valued - by me, by your community, by the individuals on whose behalf we all work every day.
I will be back in touch with more specifics on budget issues as decisions are finalized. Thank you for your work, and for your commitment to service excellence - doing the best that we can do with all that we have.