Rep. Tawna Sanchez, D-Portland and a co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, works on the House floor at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
Faced with a heap of funding requests and limited resources, legislative budget writers plan to tap the pulse of the electorate to determine the top priorities for Oregonians.
Starting Saturday, lawmakers on the Joint Ways and Means Committee that decides what gets funded will spend a month traveling the state, talking with residents. They have to finalize the next two year budget, which starts July 1, by the end of June.
The lawmakers are scheduling two-hour public hearings from Portland to southern Oregon and from the coast to eastern Oregon so residents don’t have to travel to the capitol in Salem to make their wishes heard.
The first hearing is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the performing arts center at Portland Community College’s Sylvania Campus.
On Friday, April 14, the Joint Ways and Means Committee will visit the Newport Performing Arts Center to hear testimony from 5 to 7 p.m. Southern Oregon gets a say the following Friday, with a 5 p.m. hearing at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.
On April 28, the committee will be at the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario. That hearing starts at 5 p.m. Mountain Time.
People can register to testify ahead of time through the Legislature’s website. Another hearing scheduled May 3 will allow people to testify by phone or video call.
The committee’s co-chairs last month shared the bare bones of a tight $31.6 billion spending plan for the next two years. That budget plan will change depending on the outcome of the next quarterly economic forecast in May.
Lawmakers traditionally travel for public budget hearings every other year, though the hearings were virtual in 2021 because of the COVID pandemic.
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