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State Cuts

Citizens have chance to speak out

The most immediate opportunity for Hood River County residents to speak out on the state budget deficit will be Jan. 16 at Hood River Valley Adult Center.

State Sen. Rick Metsger convenes a town hall at 6:30 p.m. (see article page A1) to discuss the projected shortfall.

"Balancing the budget will take a great deal of hard work, and citizen input is critical to this process," Metsger has said.

Metsger will present the findings that came out of a series of forums in December on how to immediately respond to the state's fiscal difficulties and as well as find long-term economic solutions.

The Jan. 16 forum will be framed in Gov. John Kitzhaber's two-part revelation on how he plans to propose the state deal with a projected $830 million proposed budget deficit. Monday, he issued a "cuts only" proposal that would slash seven percent of the state's 2001-2003 biennial budget -- including $304 million from the K-12 education budget and $170 million from human services.

Next week, the governor is expected to present his actual plan. It is expected to contain some tax increases.

The February special session will likely be a budget brouhaha, yet Kitzhaber has cagily set the stage by presenting two types of cutback scenarios.

The underlying message is this: some combination of cuts and tax increases is the only fair and realistic way to balance the budget.

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