Legislature restores emergency funds

From the Portland Business Journal, July 22, 2010

Oregon’s Legislative Emergency Board restored $17.1 million in services to seniors and people with disabilities Thursday morning.

The unanimous vote to send emergency funds toward the Department of Human Services budget protects “vital programs that serve [more than] 16,000 Oregonians and their families and allows the state to retain over $14 million in federal funds,” according to emergency board co-chairs Sen. Peter Courtney and Rep. Dave Hunt. Courtney and Hunt lead the Democrats who control the state’s legislature.

The cuts were part of the state’s overall 9 percent budget slash to help offset a $577 million budget deficit.

“As we make deep cuts to our state’s budget, we’re taking great care to protect our seniors and most vulnerable citizens,” Hunt said in a statement. “The cuts we restored today will keep seniors in their homes and help those struggling with disabilities and mental health problems in these tough times.”

The restored program funding includes money for:

• Oregon Project Independence, a state-based program that provided in-home assistance to 2,000 seniors and Alzheimer’s patients last year.

• Medicaid in-home care programs that served 11,000 clients last year.

• Community mental health programs for people without Medicaid assistance, which serves 1,462 clients.

• A developmental disabilities family support program that served 1,140 families last year.

“Our priorities will continue to be protecting Oregon’s most vulnerable and avoiding higher costs down the road,” Courtney said in a statement.

Some of the restorations protect services through the remainder of the biennium, which ends June 30, 2011. Others are protected until March 1, 2011.

The 20-member bipartisan Legislative Emergency Board can make changes within agency budgets between Oregon’s legislative sessions. The board also has access to a small emergency fund appropriated by the full Legislature.

READ – Legislative board blunts cuts to programs serving seniors and people with disabilities, the Oregonian, July 23, 2010
READ – Aid-services reprieve for Oregon caregivers still leaves questions, Salem Statesman Journal, July 23, 2010