State Rep. Peter Buckley will help lead a hearing April 30 in Ashland as part of a statewide tour to get public reaction to reductions to the state budget because of worsening economic conditions.

State Rep. Peter Buckley will help lead a hearing April 30 in Ashland as part of a statewide tour to get public reaction to reductions to the state budget because of worsening economic conditions.

Residents will get their chance to speak up about Oregon's budget problems from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Rogue River Room of Stevenson Union at Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Buckley said the state's revenue projections continue to deteriorate because of the soaring unemployment rate, which is now the second highest in the United States at 12.1 percent.

At the same time, with more people out of work, government programs are more heavily used.

"It's an interesting dilemma that levels of government services are at an all-time high, and revenues are at an all-time low," he said.

SOU is one of eight stops the Ashland Democrat and Sen. Margaret Carter, D-Portland, will make throughout the state. They co-chair the Legislature's Joint Ways and Means Committee, which helps put together the state budget.

Members of the committee will be in Klamath Falls on April 29 before heading to Jackson County. Instead of holding a public hearing, they plan to walk the streets in Klamath Falls, speaking directly with local citizens in restaurants and shops.

Buckley said he wants to find out which state services are most important to rural areas.

At each of the public hearings, a survey will be handed out asking Oregon residents to make suggestions about what they think should be cut from the budget, or ways to raise revenues.

Over the past month, Buckley said, the Ways and Means Committee has sat down with government agencies to prepare budget cuts of as much as 30 percent. Schools may be forced to cut a month or more in each of the next two years.

Last week, Buckley and Carter announced the start of a Web site, oregonbudget.gov, where Oregonians can find information on the state budget.

Total revenues for the 2009-11 biennial budget are projected to be $14 billion, which is $4.4 billion less than would be needed to maintain current service levels for education, health and other programs.

Buckley said there has been some talk of suspending tax breaks and other options to raise additional revenue, but he wants to see how Oregonians feel before these options are explored.

"We need to have an adult conversation about what we want the state to be, and how much we want to pay for it," said Buckley.