Senate President, House Speaker call on GOP to finish work

Politics

Sen. Courtney: 'It’s time for my fellow legislators to return to work and uphold their oaths'

The Oregon State Capitol in Salem, March 3, 2020. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Joint Committee on Ways and Means has advanced a series of budget bills addressing a series of growing issues in Oregon.

The bills tackle the housing and homelessness crisis, fragmented behavioral health system, looming wildfire season, and other targeted investments.

Democrats said Wednesday that the investments will only be able to move forward this session if Republicans return to the Capitol and agree to finish all of the work that has been blocked by their repeated walkouts.

“These budgets are remarkable pieces of legislation. They benefit every corner of Oregon – every Oregonian,” Senate President Peter Courtney said in a release. “The fact that a few members are preventing us from carrying out our oaths of office, preventing us from voting on bills and budgets, is heartbreaking. We have stayed in the Capitol. We have worked. We have done literally all we can do without a quorum. It’s time for my fellow legislators to return to work and uphold their oaths.”

The budget bills join a long list of critical policy bills that have been worked through the legislative process, including public hearings, written testimony, amendment debates and committee approval.

“We come to work in the Legislature each day because the work we do matters to the lives of Oregonians,” House Speaker Tina Kotek added in the same release. “All of the policy bills and budget items that have earned support through the legislative process deserve floor votes this session. I continue to talk to the House Republican Leader every day and still hope that they will return to the Capitol and agree to finish all of this important work for the people of Oregon.”

The final budget bills, as well as policy bills with appropriations, have all now moved out of the joint budget committee.

Democrats have listed the highlights of investments that are in danger because of the Republican shutdown:

Housing and Homelessness

More than 10,000 Oregonians statewide are currently sleeping on the streets without access to shelter. To address Oregon’s housing and homelessness crises, the following funds have been proposed:

  • $50 million in bonding for the Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) affordable housing construction program (HB 5202)
  • $45 million to increase shelter capacity, including $16.5 million for navigation centers in Bend, Eugene, McMinnville, Medford and Salem (HB 4001)
  • $10 million for affordable housing preservation (HB 5204)
  • $6 million for the Affordable Housing Land Acquisition Revolving Loan Program (HB 5204)
  • $5 million to help increase home ownership in communities of color (HB 4003)
  • $2.5 million to strengthen the service system for unaccompanied homeless youth (HB 4039)
  • $960,000 for a pilot program on accessory dwelling units on properties owned by low-income homeowners (HB 4015)
  • $300,000 to strengthen fair housing civil rights enforcement at Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) (HB 5204)
  • $250,000 to study and recommend a long-term rental voucher program (HB 4002)

Wildfire and Forest Management

Wildfire seasons are longer than ever due to the impacts of climate change, jeopardizing public health, safety and local economies in every corner of Oregon. This funding would help prepare for the upcoming wildfire season and invest in efforts to lessen the statewide impacts of wildfires.

  • $51 million total to the Department of Forestry to stabilize operations and prepare for the upcoming wildfire season (HB 5204)
  • $25 million for wildfire mitigation efforts (SB 1536)
  • $1 million to improve pesticide application protocols and provide facilitation to modernize forest practices (HB 4168)
  • $1 million for a Hood River County wildfire preparedness pilot (HB 5204)
  • $250,000 to study the costs of wildfire protection and suppression (HB 4166)

Disaster Relief and Emergency Preparedness

Northeast Oregon recently suffered through devastating flooding and Oregon needs to continue long-term preparation for an earthquake that scientists predict will eventually occur.

  • $12 million flood relief package for the Umatilla Basin (HB 5204)
  • $7.5 million for the ShakeAlert earthquake notification system (HB 5204)
  • $2.0 million safety evaluation of dams (HB 5204)
  • $280,000 for the City of Spray emergency building expansion
  • $175,000 for the Port of Hood River aviation tech and emergency response center

Behavioral Health Services and Family Support Programs

Funding is needed for critical services to help people with severe mental illness, children who enter foster care, Oregonians suffering from the disease of drug or alcohol addiction, and people experiencing homelessness.

  • $75 million reserved in the Emergency Board for caseload costs or budget challenges at the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services
  • $15 million in support for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs)
  • $13.4 million aid and assist package
  • $12 million Klamath County Crimson Rose Center for young women
  • $10 million for the Strengthening, Preserving, and Reunifying Families (SPRF) program, which helps keep children safely in their homes and reduces the lengths of stay in foster care.
  • $9 million for community mental health programs
  • $3 million for Family Treatment Courts in Clackamas and Douglas counties
  • $600,000 to analyze the supply and demand for behavioral health professionals (HB 4031)
  • $600,000 for the Family Preservation Project
  • $319,000 for a report on the barriers that limit access to treatment of individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders (SB 1553)
  • $200,000 for the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to develop an intervention strategy to address substance use among school-aged children and youth (HB 4149)

Economic Development and Local Infrastructure Support

Oregon is poised to invest in key local infrastructure improvements and projects that will create jobs and build stronger communities across the state.

  • $10 million to the City of Salem drinking water improvements
  • $7.5 million to the City of Woodburn community center
  • $7 million for Willamette Falls Locks
  • $6 million for tide gate and culvert repair and replacement
  • $5 million for the Oregon21 international track championships
  • $4 million to the City of Eugene downtown riverfront park
  • $3.5 million for the Lake County rail line upgrade
  • $3 million for the Lyons-Mehama Water District system improvements
  • $2 million for the Rogue Valley Children’s Museum
  • $2 million for the Curry Health District, Brookings emergency department
  • $2 million for the City of Sherwood pedestrian bridge project
  • $1 million for the Tigard Highway 99 corridor plan

Public Safety and Judicial System Enhancements

These budget bills will improve our state’s public defense system, invest in community corrections and make other targeted investments to create a fairer criminal justice system and keep our neighborhoods safer.

  • $25 million to counties for increased support for community corrections
  • $20 million for public defense system improvements
  • $3 million to children abuse intervention centers
  • $956,000 for new circuit court judges in Deschutes and Douglas counties
  • $200,000 for the Marion and Polk counties courtcare programs

University Construction Projects

Universities across the state need funding for critical repairs to aging facilities that will improve safety and reduce long-term operational costs.

  • $60 million to Portland State University, Science Building 1
  • $56 million to University of Oregon, Huestis Hall
  • $35 million to Oregon State University, Arts and Education Complex
  • $21 million to Western Oregon University, Student Success Center
  • $19 million to Oregon Institute of Technology, Boivin Hall
  • $13 million to OSU-Cascades, Student Success Center

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