Close prisons, save schools? OR faces tough budget options

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The state’s top budget writers have proposed closing two Oregon prisons as lawmakers try to balance a huge budget shortfall created by the COVID-19 pandemic and business shutdowns. In May, state economists predicted that a hit to income taxes, lottery revenue and business sales could result in Oregon taking in $2.7 billion less than expected for the two year budget cycle that ends in June 2021. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that lawmakers are considering shutting the Shutter Creek Correctional Institution and the Warner Creek Correctional Facility, prisons that can hold a combined 795 inmates. At the same time, lawmakers have prioritized protecting the $9 billion state school fund, which pays for K-12 education in the state.