Lawmakers take 1 day to move funds and save services

The Oregon State Legislature met by video conference for its one-day special session on Monday.

ONTARIO — The Oregon Legislature worked all day and into the evening during its one-day special session on Monday. The main purpose: rebalancing the budget — which had a deficit of about $1.2 billion. At the end of the day, that deficit was gone, but some services were preserved.

One of the bills passed provided additional funding to the state’s General Fund for schools; it authorized the transfer of $400 million from the Education Stability Fund to the State Education Fund. According to the bill, General Fund revenues in the current biennium are projected to be 2% lower than what they were projected to be when the budget was established.

The legislature gave additional funding for health care, child welfare, and economic development, including $50 million for affordable housing projects, said House Speaker Tina Kotek, in her assessment of the session.

One bill that did not make it through the session, and was killed in committee, was Senate Bill 1702, which would have sped up unemployment benefits to some public employees.

Opponents, including District 30 Senator Lynn Findley said it put public employees ahead of other Oregonians in receiving unemployment benefits.

“I am trying to protect the tens of thousands of unemployed Oregonians, through no fault of their own,” said Findley, R-Vale, one of the leading opponents of the bill. “Oregonians are begging for help, some filing for bankruptcy, and the governor is blind to those pleas, and instead prioritizes public employees.”

Supporters of the bill, including House Speaker Kotek, said it would have sped along all unemployment claims.

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