This week the 2011 legislative session gets under way, beginning with the governor’s budget recommendations. We’ll take this opportunity to head back to Salem and broadcast live from the basement of the Capitol — something we hope to do every other week for the rest of the session.
In his recommendations, the governor calls for cuts to education and healthcare funding. Kitzhaber calls for beefing up early childhood education, even while making cuts elsewhere. Overall, the two-year plan proposes an increase in spending by more than $1 billion above the current budget. Lawmakers have the final say on what the budget will look like, and it’s likely to be a long process. The governor’s proposal does seem to be gaining some traction with House Republicans, who put out a statement calling it a “sound budget blueprint,” while calling for more investments in the private sector among other changes.
Another big issue that’s bound to dominate this session is the tricky politics of redistricting. The legislative district lines are redrawn every ten years to reflect population changes measured in the census. Some say the legislature shouldn’t be in charge of this delicate, politically-charged process and that its in the legislators’ interest to make their districts less politically diverse. However, a measure that would have taken redistricting responsibilities away from the legislature failed to make it onto the 2010 ballot. So, again, this year it’s up to the legislature to draw the district lines.
On this show we’ll talk with legislators and others about budget negotiations and redistricting, and we’ll kick off a new feature. Have you ever wondered who works behind the scenes to make the Capital tick? Who guards the door? Who cooks the food? Who actually writes the laws? Over the next few months, we’ll get to know the people who work with elected officials in one way or another.
What do you think about the governor’s proposed budget? How would the cuts he’s called for affect you? Are you engaged in the redistricting process? Which unelected Capital employees would you like to hear from?
- Bruce Hanna: Republican Co-Speaker of the Oregon House and state representative from district 7
- Arnie Roblan: Democratic Co-Speaker of the Oregon House and state representative from district 9
- Suzanne Bonamici: Democratice state senator from district 17 and chair of the redistricting committee
- Justin Leavitt: Associate professor at Loyola Law School and author of A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting
- Steve Lindsley: Communications director for the Oregon House Co-Speakers