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Oregon Financial Report Improves

EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon’s financial status is better than it was two years ago, according to Secretary of State Kate Brown’s Biennial Financial Condition Report.

Brown sends out this statewide financial report every two years. While things are looking up overall, there are some conflicting reports in the audit that signify the state is still getting there.

According to Brown, Oregon’s financial condition isn’t 100 percent.

“There are a number of key indicators and also some disturbing trends,” Brown said.

In Brown’s biennial report, released Tuesday, audits revealed good news and bad news. The good news showed Oregon’s debt declined slightly, the first time in ten years. The per-capita income and tax revenues increased, although both still rank below pre-recession levels, and state unemployment continued to drop from a high of 11.6 percent in 2009, to 8.4 percent in 2012.

“Despite the fact that Oregon was hit very hard during the recession, folks in the legislature and in the executive branch made very tough budget decisions to make sure that spending was brought into line with less revenue,” Brown said.

But with that good news, comes bad news. While state unemployment has dropped, the audit shows the number of Oregonians living in poverty has continued to increase. The state’s Rainy Day Fund has nearly depleted and spending on K-12 education declined over the last few years, affecting programs all over the state.

“I think every district has felt the pinch over the last four years. In Springfield, we’ve cut $35 million from the budget over the last four years,” said Devon Ashbridge, Springfield Public Schools spokesperson.

Springfield schools, like many districts, have adjusted much of how they spend, while still doing their best to serve their students. Even though indicators have shown the state economy’s making a slow recovery and legislators are working to restore education funding, the last few years have transformed the way schools will operate in the future.

“If that growth continues and if education funding continues to rise, we’ll be looking at how we can be very, very smart with what we do with that increase in funding, and how we can invest it as carefully as we can to really improve student achievement,” Ashbridge said.

Brown says Oregon’s biggest challenge was meeting the increased demand for state services with little to no increase in state revenues and only temporary federal funding.

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