By Eric Tegethoff
Oregon News Service 

State agency budget cuts could hit rural OR hardest

 

April 20, 2023 | View PDF

Under a proposal in the Legislature, Oregon’s service agencies could see spending cuts, which could hit hardest in rural areas.

Under the Committee on Ways and Means co-chair budget, state agency spending would be cut by 2.5%.

John Mullin, an advocate for the Human Services Coalition of Oregon, said the proposed budget could hurt health providers’ Medicaid reimbursement rates, which is bad news for rural Oregon.

“There are really some very challenging issues about finding providers in rural areas and that’s a main concern,” Mullin pointed out. “That’s also linked to some of the economic struggles that are happening in rural communities.”

Mullin noted the cuts could also affect cash assistance programs, which are not keeping up with inflation.

Some lawmakers argued Oregon no longer has federal funds to rely on for its budget. Gov. Tina Kotek has proposed spending about $750 million from the state’s rainy day fund to support state agencies.

The potential state agency cuts also are coming as expanded Medicaid benefits from early in the pandemic end, potentially leaving up to 300,000 Oregonians uninsured.

The Ways and Means Committee is presenting the budget around the state, and Mullin stressed his organization is going to the meetings, to urge full funding for needed programs and state agencies.

“Speaking from the Human Services Coalition perspective, we think that services to the people that are most vulnerable are really at the top of the list,” Mullin added.

The committee will be in Newport on Friday, Roseburg on April 21 and Ontario on April 28.

 

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