The spending plan released last week by legislative budget writers shows how our state continues to feel the effects of the Great Recession. While economic indicators today show positive signs, there will be a lag between the turnaround and state revenues.
The budget from the co-chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which you can read on the Legislature's website, reflects the same reality as the one released by the Governor in February. The need for services to help vulnerable Oregonians and to educate our children is greater than the dollars available.
We will not know our final budget for many months. Conversations in the Capitol will continue as lawmakers make tough choices while balancing education, health and human services, and other state needs. But one thing is clear: There will be reductions for OHA and for all state agencies.
Those on the Oregon Health Plan will likely have fewer services and treatments available. Providers who care for them will have to do so with reduced payments. The work of the Health System Transformation Team will help to mitigate some of the reductions, but it alone will not be sufficient.
Additionally, there will likely be some reductions in the budgets for the Oregon State Hospital, Addictions and Mental Health Division and Public Health Division.
I know this is difficult. It is difficult for our clients and our communities. And it is also difficult for you, our talented and committed staff, who have made many sacrifices over the past several years of the recession.
I also believe that there is light at the end of what has been a very long and very dark tunnel. One of those lights is the work we have been doing to strengthen our health system so that it provides better health, better quality and better value for us all. We have broad understanding that we can no longer afford to waste precious public resources in a health care system that is too expensive. And I have faith that we can tackle that problem and fix it.
As we move forward with the budget process, details will be worked out. Information will change. But one thing is certain: I will do my best to keep you updated as we learn more.
In the meantime, please know that the good work you do every day is appreciated and valued by me and the other leaders in our state. Thank you.