As the budget battles in Congress made headlines over the weekend, we kept hoping that somewhere in the political sausage would be a little good news for Curry County.
Pending somewhere on Capitol Hill is an extension of the federal support payments to counties across the nation. It’s the loss of those payments that has finally tipped the Curry County budget into red ink – beginning July 1. Several other Oregon counties are right behind us.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden says he has enough support in the Senate to extend the payments in a budget negotiation. But as of today, the Senate and House can’t even agree on how or when to negotiate. It appears any budget decisions won’t happen until after the holidays.
There is also a delay in plans on the House side to introduce a way to increase logging on some federal lands – and thus sales revenues that could be shared with counties. There was hope that the proposal would be introduced in November, but it didn’t happen. Three Oregon representatives – Peter DeFazio, Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader – say they are still working on a plan, but they warn it will take time to work through the political compromises.
Those federal logjams make state, county and voter actions even more critical.
The governor met with representatives of eight counties behind closed doors this week, with hints that some ideas might be submitted to the special legislative session early in 2012. Curry County’s special citizen committee has until Feb. 1 to give its recommendations to the county commissioners. One of those potential solutions is a property tax proposal, which voters can only consider in the May primary election.
Where will this all end? Stay tuned – but clearly, we can’t count on any quick solutions from Congress.
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