GOP gubernatorial candidate Dr. Bud Pierce applauds prior to a debate at Winston Churchill High School in Eugene, Oregon, on Oct. 6, 2016.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Dr. Bud Pierce applauds prior to a debate at Winston Churchill High School in Eugene, Oregon, on Oct. 6, 2016.

Bradley W. Parks/OPB

Bud Pierce, the Republican candidate for governor, says he can continue major state programs without seeking new taxes. 

Pierce released a proposed budget Wednesday that provides more money for schools and roads while also including modest tax cuts. 

He charges that Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is trying to scare voters into a tax hike by making the budget outlook sound worse than it is. Pierce says he can save money in large part by gradually cutting the state workforce from 40,000 to about 25,000.

“If we can allow the number of state employees to decrease through retirement and attrition,” Pierce said in a Portland press conference Wednesday, “especially from upper- and middle-management, we’ll have more money for the actual programs.”

Pierce says he’d like to cut the workforce by about 3 to 4 percent a year. At that rate, it would take longer than the two terms he could potentially serve as governor to meet his workforce goal.

Brown campaign spokesman Chris Pair fired back in a statement that Pierce’s “budget proposal is not only unrealistic, it’s reckless.” 

“His promises have gotten bigger and bigger over the last few weeks, but his plans to pay for them have gotten smaller and smaller,” Pair added. “In the process, he plans to cut jobs and reverse the economic growth of the last few years.”

Brown warns that the state faces a nearly $1.5 billion shortfall. She backs the Measure 97 corporate tax hike — which would raise about $3 billion a year — and says it is particularly needed to help education.

Pierce’s budget proposes $21.2 billion in general fund and lottery spending for the 2017-19 budget, which he said is an adequate increase over current spending of about $19.3 billion.