Think: Is Oregon’s General Spending out of control? – UPDATED Sept. 16 -

 

Think for yourself

Think for yourself

“The bottom line is this: The average adopted budget from 1999 through 2011, which included the 2000 recession, the 2003 recession and budget cuts, and the 2007 recession were a 2013 TABOR adjusted average of 17.33 Billion dollars.

So, the 2013 budget is 633 Million lower than the average TABOR adjusted budget going back 7 budget cycles.

Harry Esteve in the Oregonian says that the growth in General Fund spending in Oregon’s 2013-15 budget is “impressive”. Citing the 13.6% growth from the 2011-13 budget. With the snapshot presented, that seems to be the case. And perhaps it is. Of course, if you were standing in a hole one minute then climbed out of it the next, that doesn’t mean you just grew three feet in ten seconds. So, to put our current budget into historical perspective you’d look at inflation and population growth as well.

So, I took the adopted general and lottery funds budget for each biennium. (Link to source) Then used an online calculator (From the US Bureau of Labor Statistics) to adjust past dollars to current dollars. Then, using US Government census data determined that the average annual increase in Oregon population between 2000 and 2010 to be 1.5% or so, and adjusted the dollar adjusted budget based on estimated population changes. Basically, the TABOR limitations as advocated by some conservatives and Libertarians who ask that government budgets be limited to inflation and population growth. (All dollars are in Billions)

UPDATED EXPLANATION:  To be clear, what I’m trying to show here is how our current budget stands in relation to prior budgets. So, I’ve taken an older budget, factored in inflation and population, and the last figure – the Pop+Inf Adjust – is what that older budget would have been if it had only been TABOR adjusted to 2013.

So, for instance, if the 1999 adopted budget of 10.63 billion had grown by inflation and population, then the Oregon Budget would be 18.3 billion in 2013. So, the actual 2013 adopted  budget is actually 1.6 Billion dollars LESS, than a TABOR adjusted 1999 budget.

Biennium Start Year          Gen. Funds Budget    Inflation Adjust.       Pop+Inf. Adjust

1999                                          10.63                        14.9                      18.3

2001                                          11.9                         15.7                       18.6

2003                                           11.5                        14.6                       16.9

2005                                           12.47                       14.9                      16.7

2007                                           15.1                         17.1                      18.6

2009                                           14.2                        15.46                     16.3

2011                                            14.8                        15.4                      15.9

2013                                            16.7    …………………………………16.7

These are back of the iPhone calculations. So perhaps not as exacting as I’d like. But they are pretty darn close.

The bottom line is this: The average adopted budget from 1999 through 2011, which included the 2000 recession, the 2003 recession and budget cuts, and the 2007 recession were a 2013 TABOR adjusted average of 17.33 Billion dollars.

So, the 2013 budget is 633 Million lower than the average TABOR adjusted budget going back 7 budget cycles.

The current budget TABOR adjusted, is the third lowest in the last seven cycles. So below the average general and lottery fund budget. The 2011 general funds budget, which seems like an outlier, was supplemented quite a bit by the economic stimulus package, so actual general fund spending may have been a bit higher.

In 2003, when the State wasn’t prosecuting misdemeanor crimes or drug felonies for four months (leading the the infamous catch and release stories on the news and the huge surge in drug and property crimes and ID thefts) the TABOR adjusted budget was actually higher that the current budget.

The bottom line is. This general fund budget doesn’t appear to be a budget busting bonanza of giveaways and runaway spending. At least when you put it into perspective. Something we, and the media, do too seldom.

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