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Oregon Task Force on Effective and Cost-Efficient Service Provision

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Did you know that … “There is created the Task Force on Effective and Cost-Efficient Service Provision …”: House Bill 2920 (HTML or PDF) (Chapter 881, (2009 Laws): Effective date August 4, 2009).

“… The task force shall:

(a) Review opportunities to provide services in the most effective and cost-efficient manner;

(b) Consider the ability of intergovernmental agreements, existing or new service districts and technology to achieve costsavings;

(c) Encourage effective fiscal planning for counties managing the phaseout of federal forest safety net payments; and

(d) Recommend to the Governor and the Legislative Assembly anappropriate level of state fiscal support to counties….” (See also: Representative Nathanson appointment to Task Force)

I’m not sure if you are fully aware just how difficult it is to cut a state’s budget, especially one’s own state’s budget. Do you really want to cut programs that have substantial matching funds the state would lose? Do you want to cut programs that bring in self-supporting fees? Do you want to cut programs that would save us all a lot money in the short, medium or long term (e.g. education?) Do you really want to cut money from programs that protect our health and safety? See what I mean?

The answer is yes, sometimes we do have to make those cuts. But think about analogies to your own household budget. Don’t you use public transit more or pack a few more lunches to save money to keep the kids in college, especially if there is a scholarship in play? Don’t you pay a roofer because if you don’t, you’ll pay more later for other, greater repairs if the roof leaks?

We all know how tough it is to sit around the table with the family and talk about budget cuts – and how easy it is to micromanage a neighbor’s or a legislator’s budget, none of which is to say that we shouldn’t all feel free to tell our Legislators what matters to us!

Whether you agree or not with Oregon Legislators’ final decisions, their jobs are hard, the hours long, the verbal and written abuse sustained, and the financial rewards modest. (Not unlike parenting!) As is true of school teachers who stand in front of hundreds of children for hours day after day after day, few of us would retain our cool, our calm, our welcoming demeanors under the steady drumbeat of constituents, staffers, email, letters, phone calls, lobbyists, colleagues, agency heads, reporters, bloggers, and many more, all of whom focus their (our) opinionated laser pointers on individual legislators who were elected to represent our best interests.