SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Both Democrats and Republicans in the Oregon legislature agree solving the homeless crisis is the top issue in the state. But there are already warning signs there is likely not enough money to take care of everything — which will lead to a tug-of-war over the dollars.

On Tuesday, legislative leaders gave a roadmap of where they’ll head this session in Salem. They plan to get rid of some rules and regulations to allow thousands more homes to be built quicker, as Gov. Tina Kotek wants.

They need to come up with $100 million in 60 days to kick start construction and help a wave of people facing eviction since the rent hike moratorium was lifted.

Lawmakers also pledged to spend tax dollars on programs to help people get off the street and into housing, more mental health and addiction resources and treatment. They also plan to get tough on fentanyl suppliers by enacting new laws.

Some lawmakers, like GOP Minority Leader Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, are already warning they will closely watch how the money gets spent.

Oregon House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, January 17, 2023 (KOIN)
Oregon House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, January 17, 2023 (KOIN)

“We must ensure the solution for homelessness provides shelters and services and is not just a slush fund for for-profits/non-profits,” Breese-Iverson said.

Democratic leaders also highlighted accountability.

The public defender shortage will also get a lot of attention, both with money to hire more public defenders and new policy. But, again, lawmakers said they won’t just pour money into it unless there is accountability.

Education is a top priority, with an effort to attract more teachers and more mental health support for students.

But there could be a shortage of $500 million in the budget lawmakers have to come up with for the next 2 years. Federal money given out during COVID is gone over worries about a recession.

One encouraging sign: Both Democrats and Republicans seem to want a fresh start toward working together now that the legislature is back in session.