SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Gov. John Kitzhaber says he recognizes he's asking state lawmakers to make politically risky decisions on public pensions and prisons, but he says tough choices are needed to boost school funding.
The Democratic governor delivered his annual state of the state speech Monday to a joint session of the new state House and Senate. He also says he's willing to raise taxes by rolling back certain tax deductions.
Kitzhaber says the cost of prisons and of public-employee pensions is diverting money from higher priorities. He's called on lawmakers to cut pension benefits for government workers and to change sentencing laws to slow the growth of prisons.
Kitzhaber also says some Oregonians are enjoying the benefits of economic recovery, but rural communities, minorities and the poor are being left behind.
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