|I promised in my previous messages to let you know our plans to reduce the agency's spending trajectory and stay within budget for the remainder of the biennium. After consulting with the Legislative Emergency Board yesterday, we now have direction to move forward with a range of actions.
We presented to the Legislature the reasons for our budget deficit -- primarily increasing caseloads and decreased tobacco tax revenue -- and our plan to manage this situation. The plan can be found at http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/aboutdhs/legactivity/eboard/0908/01_options.pdf.
It was developed to reduce expenditures to the greatest extent possible without cutting programs. The plan includes a combination of reductions in our administrative costs, financial management actions to use every available Other Funds balance, and estimated program savings. Senator Margaret Carter said of our proposal, "They have done a wonderful job of looking at this situation and putting this together without making cuts."
For the past several months we have been taking steps to reduce expenses. These efforts, which require all of us to be diligent in watching spending, will continue. We also have been delaying filling vacant positions, and will continue to do so. In addition, effective November 1, we will implement a targeted hiring freeze. This freeze will exempt some positions that provide direct care at the Oregon State Hospital; within the Children, Adults and Families Division; and in other areas. Other exemptions may be made on a case-by-case basis. Your division heads will be providing additional details.
These reductions will have an impact on our ability to provide the needed level of services to our clients, and will strain those of you who already are facing increased workloads and stress. However, faced with a potential budget deficit of more than $70 million and declining state revenues, there are few options.
We will continue to work with legislative leaders to develop additional plans to reduce our shortfall, which we will present during our December rebalance process. I will keep you informed of our progress as we move forward.
These are difficult economic times for everyone. I know that you will do your best, and that you are committed to providing the best services possible.
I truly regret the added difficulties these actions will create for you in your jobs, and the impact they will have on our clients. In the weeks ahead, please know that you have my deep and ongoing appreciation for your hard work and dedication. The work you do is tremendously important to all Oregonians. Thank you.