HOUSE REPUBLICANS ABANDON WAYS & MEANS PROCESS:
By setting up a new House Budget Committee, outside the Ways and Means process, the Speaker hopes to pass purely Republican budgets without the need for Democratic votes.
The Speaker's scheme accomplishes nothing except making the legislative session longer. The House Republicans delude themselves if they believe that separating from the Ways and Means process will speed approval of a final budget, or that it will eliminate the need for negotiation with Democrats. If they pass a budget without Democratic votes in the House, the evenly divided Senate will simply debate it, amend it, and send it back to the House for final approval. If the House Republicans reject the Senate version, both houses must then appoint a conference committee to negotiate a compromise. Thus, the Speaker's action amounts to "make-work," a way to pretend that the process is going forward when it's really going sideways. The cost of keeping the Legislature in session is $22,000 a day, and $110,000 a week.
The consequences of unnecessary delay are serious. Unless the Legislature enacts a budget by the first week of August, the state will suffer a genuine financial catastrophe. The Treasurer and agencies will be unable to pay Oregon's bills and meet its financial obligations. The effect on Oregon's credit rating could be dire.
The House Republican leadership has failed to understand that it needs Democratic support to enact a budget in this session. Though the Republicans outnumber Democrats 35-25 in the House, the Senate is evenly divided.