204 N. First St., Suite C • PO Box 7 • Silverton, OR 97381 • www.ocpp.org • 503-873-1201 • fax 503-873-1947
December 27, 2004
The Doonesbury Decade:
Economic Growth Will Fail to Restore Public Services
Oregon’s economy may be on a modest growth path, but the effects of the economic downturn
that began in 2001 are lasting for a decade. State General Fund revenues and the vital public
investments and services that the General Fund supports will not recover from the recession
until after the 2009-2011 budget cycle.
State economists predict steady economic growth over the next several years for Oregon, as the
state emerges from the economic downturn that began in 2001. However, analysis of Oregon’s
Economic and Revenue Forecast indicates that inflation-adjusted per capita General Fund
revenues will fail to return to pre-recession levels until after the 2009-11 budget period.
That is, the reductions in public investments and public services that began in 2001 will not be
restored until after 2009-11, despite the expected economic growth. The General Fund is
Oregon’s primary funding source for schools, the court system, senior programs, child
protective services, and other important programs.
When Oregon failed to maintain adequate funding for education and other public services after
the downturn hit, Gary Trudeau lampooned Oregon’s budget cuts in his Doonesbury cartoon
strip.1 As 2005 approaches, Oregon finds itself in the middle of what is looking like the
Doonesbury Decade, a period marked by Oregon’s choice to provide inadequate levels of
important public services.
The General Fund’s projected recovery date is slipping further away compared to earlier
forecasts. Analysis of data in the June 2004 forecast projected that the General Fund would
recover during the 2009-11 budget cycle.2 Analysis of the December forecast finds that recovery
will not occur until after 2009-11.
Oregon doesn’t need to suffer a Doonesbury Decade. If Oregonians want to restore ed