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Budget Writers Warn 350,000 Oregonians Could Lose Health Coverage


Budget writers at the Oregon Legislature are warning of deep cuts to health care and education.

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The Democrats in charge of putting together a two-year spending plan released a list of potential cuts Monday.

Among them: 350,000 Oregonians would lose their government-funded health care if the expansion under the Affordable Care Act is rolled back entirely. The cuts would also lead to larger class sizes and staff reductions in Oregon schools.

House Speaker Tina Kotek said the rundown of possible cuts should serve as a wake-up call.

“Oregonians are going to see things that they care about on those lists. And without new revenue, we don’t have a lot of options,” Kotek told reporters.

The Portland Democrat said talks continue on several proposals to increase taxes on hospitals and other businesses. The final budget numbers will also depend on the next revenue forecast, which will come out in mid-May.

The list drew immediate criticism from some interest groups.

Jim Green, the director of the Oregon School Boards Association, called the proposed cuts unacceptable.

“We need to change the conversation, right now,” he said. “Our state’s economy is booming, and our children should be the beneficiaries of that, not the victims.”

Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for the Senate Republican caucus, issued a statement accusing Democrats of giving Oregonians a “false choice.”

He said the list “is designed to intimidate us all into accepting higher taxes or suffering these unacceptable cuts.”

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