March 16, 2001 11:00 pm

SALEM In a reshuffling of the state budget released Friday, Gov. John Kitzhaber proposed restoring funding for higher education, senior citizen and public safety programs, as well as preventing any further cuts in budgets due to the $100 million downturn in the state revenue forecast.

Kitzhaber has proposed a budget strategy that will pay debts during the current 1999-2001 budget, thus freeing up money for the coming 2001-2003 budget period, which begins July 1.

Because of paying the federal retiree debt early, we can eliminate the impact of the recent $100 million drop in projected state revenue, as well as restore funding to programs and services Oregonians have consistently and vocally supported, Kitzhaber said.

The governor suggested improving funding for the following programs:

Nursing care: The re-balanced budget restores $12.5 million to increase the number of senior citizens who can receive nursing care.

Oregon Project Independence: The re-balanced budget provides $6.8 to restore up to 50 percent of Oregon Project Independence, which helps senior citizens stay in their homes as they age.

Oregon University System: Increases funding by $45 million.

Oregon State Police: The re-balance provides $9.7 million, which will allow the State Police to retain existing patrol and detective positions and increase patrol officers by 50 over the next two years.

Oregon Youth Authority: The rebalance provides $6.4 million to retain the Tillamook Boot Camp facility, which was previously targeted for closure.

Proposal doesn't fund Hilgard camp

Gov. John Kitzhabers budget proposal that retains a boot camp at Tillamook is not enough, according to one Union County commissioner.

They need to restore 150 beds, said Commissioner Colleen MacLeod about the Oregon Youth Authoritys youth accountability camp program. The OYA has built an accountability camp at Hilgard, but it has not opened, and its future is uncertain.

The governor originally proposed eliminating all 150 beds in the program that included three camps. The revised budget provides $6.4 million to keep the camp at Tillamook.

Thats not good enough, said MacLeod, who was active in promoting a Union County location to the community and to the state. We sold this to the community as a way to give youth another chance.

When it was proposed, the Hilgard camp was expected to house 50 boys and create about 30 jobs.

Well fight for the jobs, but ultimately this is for the kids, MacLeod said. Thats who suffers. We need to help kids of all ages.

MacLeod said she and other supporters of the camp will continue to work with Sen. David Nelson, R-Pendleton, and House Speaker Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, to find money for the youth camp.