Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday that agency leaders are already looking for possible budget cuts if a proposed corporate tax, Measure 97, doesn’t pass. Brown said she would hope to spare education priorities from any cuts.
The state Legislative Fiscal Office has projected a $1.35 billion budget shortfall, partly due to rising costs of the Public Employee Retirement System.
Supporters of Measure 97 predict it would bring in billions of dollars in new revenue by taxing large corporations that do business in Oregon.
Brown has endorsed the measure, although she admits Oregonians would be footing some of the bill for the increased taxes by paying more for goods. When asked how she would respond if Measure 97 didn't pass, Brown said agencies are required to suggest possible 10-percent cuts, as required by the budget process under Oregon law.
Brown also said officials are looking into various "issue areas," for possible cuts. She highlighted education as an area she wants to prioritize when it comes to preserving funding.
“I am very committed to keeping funding for our early childhood education programs because I know that will improve outcomes for the future," Brown said. "I am very committed to keeping our class sizes down and lengthening our school year, and making sure we continue to remove barriers at the levels of higher education.”
Brown spoke at Portland’s Madison High School Wednesday after visiting students in career-technical programs.
She was joined at Madison by Colt Gill, who is now serving as the state's first chief innovation officer. Gill said he's visited schools in 12 Oregon counties, looking for ways to improve Oregon's lagging graduation rates.
Editor's Note: This story was altered from the original to more clearly reflect how Gov. Brown answered a question at Madison High School.