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Oregon Budget Hearings Kick Off

File photo of the ''Oregon Pioneer'' sculpture that sits atop the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.
Chris Lehman
/
Northwest News Network
File photo of the ''Oregon Pioneer'' sculpture that sits atop the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

Oregonians will have their chance to weigh in on the state's spending plan during a series of public hearings around the state. The Joint Committee On Ways and Means, the legislature's budget-writing committee, is seeking input on ways to bridge a roughly $1.8 billion shortfall in the upcoming budget cycle.

Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek anticipates a robust turnout for the meetings. She said the level of public interest in the political process has increased dramatically since the November election, including at legislative town halls.

"I usually have 100 people at a pre-session town hall,” Kotek said. “I had 300 plus. So I'm hoping that that new engagement that has come out of the recent elections will translate into having a wide variety of people coming to the budget hearings."

The first meeting is Friday night at the State Capitol in Salem. That's followed by a hearing Saturday at the Sylvania Campus of Portland Community College. Future hearings are scheduled in Hermiston, Madras, Ashland, Eugene and Tillamook.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.