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Oregon Governor Kate Brown Issues Notice of Potential Vetoes to Preserve Over $65 Million for Wildfire Response

Final action on pending legislation to be completed by Saturday, September 19

Portland, OR (STL.News)— Governor Kate Brown today provided notice that she will veto several line-item appropriations in order to preserve funding for the state’s ongoing emergency wildfire response efforts and maintain a balanced budget.

Combined, the vetoes will preserve over $65 million, improving the state’s ending balance to total $164.3 million in general funds and $16.7 million in lottery funds.  In order to expedite an immediate relief package by the Legislature’s Emergency Board, the Governor also requested that legislators reserve at least $150 million in the state’s emergency fund for upcoming requests relating to the fires.

“Our state faces several unprecedented challenges simultaneously: the COVID-19 pandemic, structural racism resulting in persistent disparities for Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Tribal communities in our state, widespread unemployment, a significant budget shortfall, and now the worst wildfire season in our lifetimes,” said Governor Brown.  “The wildfires are a significant change since you adjourned the Second Special Session.”

Under Article 5, Section 15b of the Oregon Constitution the Governor must provide at least five days’ notice before vetoing a bill.  Governor Brown’s intended vetoes are outlined below:

SB 5723
• Reductions to Oregon Department of Forestry (fire protection, private forests, administration and equipment), Oregon Military Department (emergency management and operations), Oregon State Police (Offices of State Fire Marshal and Chief Medical Examiner, forensic services, and agency support), and DEQ (climate change reductions): Sections 177-179, 181-185, 273, 290-294, 297-299 and 322
• Special Purpose Appropriation for DHS/OHA: Section 342
• Early Learning Division reductions: Section 213

HB 4304
• Repeal of the Wildfire Damage Housing Relief Account within the Oregon Housing Fund: Sections 38-40a
• Repeal of the PERS unfunded liability reduction program and fund dedications: Sections 14-16, 18, 18a, 18b and 18c
• Sweep of funds from the Educator Advancement Fund: Section 61
• Sweep of funds from the State Treasurer: Section 57

Governor Brown’s letter to legislative leadership is available here .

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