Oregon, facing the serious economic problems plaguing many states, called its legislature into a special session this week, and in a single day cut its budget and raised state taxes by a total of $100 million.
In a 14-hour special session Monday, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate agreed to a package of spending cuts and revenue enhancements sufficient to overcome the latest $100 million shortfall in projected revenues for the biennium ending June 30, 1983.
Budget cuts approved included $10 million in state agency programs, $21 million in salary adjustments for state employes, $13 million in basic school support and $30 million in one of the state's two property relief programs. Another $34 million in revenue was picked up by postponing for six months the planned lowering of state income tax withholding rates.
This performance stood in sharp contrast to that of the year's first special session in January and February. Then it took 37 days to produce agreement on measures to bridge a deficit then estimated at $313 million.
Voters were not amused by what they saw as legislative indecision. With an election now less than five months away, Democratic legislators especially were anxious to dissipate the shadow of that memory.
Political realities also were persuasive this time with Republican Gov. Victor Atiyeh, who is seeking a second term in November. In January his budget-balancing proposal, which emphasized sharp cuts in state services, reflected his strong support for President Reagan.
Faced with a deep and continuing recession in Oregon's economy, Atiyeh has been increasingly critical of administration economic policy, and in calling this week's special session he worked to forge a consensus with the legislature's Democratic leadership.
Thus the substance of the package put together in committees last week was designed to win quick approval by a bipartisan majority in both chambers. House Majority Leader Grattan Kerans (D-Eugene) credited the governor's new willingness to work with the leadership for the speedy outcome.
Not all Democrats were pleased. Sen. Edward Fadeley (D-Lane), a veteran member of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, characterized the brief session as a "four minute appendectomy." Anticipating further declines in revenues before the end of the biennium, Fadeley argued for withdrawing $100 million rather than $30 million from the property tax relief account. But the proposal, approved in committee, was defeated by the Senate, 23-7.
Most Democrats, nevertheless, reject the view of the governor and his economic advisers that Oregon's recession is "bottoming out," and they expect to be called back into special session as early as September to cope with revised estimates of a further decline in state revenues. The consensus solution achieved this week could prove to be more elusive then, in the heat of the fall election campaigns.