SALEM - Human services advocates are urging Oregon lawmakers to dip into the state's rainy day fund to avoid cuts to programs for the needy.

That suggestion came Tuesday night as the Legislature's budget-writing panel began hearings on what could be the first round of cuts to social services and other programs in the midst of the deepening recession.

The two-year budget, which ends June 30, must be cut by as much as $800 million over the next few months to keep it balanced as required by law.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski proposes to reduce child care subsidies for low-income working families, eliminate dental and vision benefits for adults on the Oregon Health Plan and slice funding for community-based mental health and drug and alcohol treatment programs.

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