Oregon’s 2020 Legislative Session is Underway
DHS Director's Message
Message from DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht
February 14, 2020
The second week of the Oregon State Legislature’s 2020 session is coming to a close. The Legislature provides us with the budget and policy support for improving the well-being of the Oregonians we serve across the lifespan. It provides crucial oversight in our work to help people reach their full potential and be contributing members of thriving communities.
Legislative sessions held in even years are known as “short sessions” because they last no more than 35 days. In their early days, short sessions usually focused on housekeeping items and adjustments to the state’s two-year budget. This year, more than 250 bills have been introduced. You’re probably hearing the most about wildfire mitigation, housing and homelessness, and climate bills, but there are proposed legislation and budget requests that directly affect our work.
We’re asking for significant investment into our Department during this session to do the work assigned to us. Economic times are good in Oregon and the latest revenue forecast released this week shows an increase in revenue above the original projections for this biennium. Even in good years, funding is scarce and the competition for it is tight.
We submitted requests totaling $145 million to address some emergent budget needs and propose staffing investments to provide the foundation for a stable, high-functioning agency. While it is unlikely our full request will be granted, we believed it was important to put forward a thoughtful, strategic request that represents our current, high priority needs.
To move the Department forward, the proposed investments include requests for positions and funding to:
- Increase safety and health;
- Sustain and improve services to children, adults and families;
- Maintain commitments to communities who depend on the Department’s stability;
- Position the Department to build on current programs and work to increase well-being; and,
- Increase certainty around operational resources that support the provision of services.
During the past year we’ve been working with our committees in the Legislature and with our Governor to clearly identify our work and the resources it takes to deliver the positive outcomes we all want for Oregonians. Our discussions involve matching expectations to staffing, showing how we are improving our operational effectiveness, and being transparent about how we work within our allocated budget.
The Governor and Legislature have invested in us generously over the past few years because they understand the importance of our work, see our challenges and recognize that our successes come from the work you do - person by person, family by family - in their communities. We appreciate their support and thank you for the incredible work you do as part of the Department’s team. We’ll let you know what the Legislature decides when the session ends.