Saturday, August 09, 2008

“Sorry, We Don’t Have Enough Money”

When you approach our state’s legislature with an important need, asking them to fund it, you often hear the same words... “We don’t have enough money in the budget to fund this need.” There always seems to be another excuse why needs don’t get funding, and generally it revolves around the budget. That being the case, someone please answer the following question. If the budget is so constraining, how in the name of all that’s good and sacred can the legislature fork out over 1.25 million dollars, for of all things, OFFICE FURNITURE?

I know we need an ombuds program to ensure people with developmental disabilities who live in the community are protected. I also know that when the financial impact is discussed in the upcoming legislative session about said program, there will be hemming and hawing over what it costs. In Illinois they have one.

The statewide ombudsman program — advocating on behalf of more than 80,000 people in more than 800 facilities — operates on a $2.8 million annual budget. That breaks down to $1.7 million from the federal government, $750,000 from civil penalties paid by nursing homes with health violations, and $391,000 from state general-revenue funds.

I say “to hell with the office furniture. Give us and ombuds program!”


Oregonian37 said...

I have to answer to this one. As a college student, I've been fighting for funding for post-secondary education for the last couple of years. I've been to the capitol many times, before and after the remodel. Perspective is needed here.
They didn't spend 1.5 million on furniture. They spent it on carpet, furniture, building repair (piping, upgrades, etc.) and better air circulation. None of those things had been touched in over 30 years. Over 150,000 people visit the capitol every year. Even as an able-bodied person, I remember several times tripping on frayed carpeting and wondering how folks who aren't as able were supposed to navigate certain hallways and bathrooms.
For years, the legislature has gone cheap and patched along. The improvements made last year are long-term.
I don't mean in any way to diminish the need for an ombudsman program, but I don't believe that this is an apples-to-apples argument.

David McDonald said...

Actually what I read was that leaders approved the furniture as part of a $34 million renovation of the House and Senate wings at the State Capitol. Oregon voters should be dismayed that the project includes the purchase of $15,499 worth of new office furniture for each of the 30 senators, and $13,047 in new furniture for each of the 60 House members. Among that furniture are new desk chairs that cost more than $1,600 each. That's not about pipes etc.