Brown issues vetoes to shore up $65M+ for wildfire response

20 September 2020

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USA – PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Kate Brown issued vetoes of several line-item appropriations Sunday as a way to preserve funding for Oregon’s ongoing emergency wildfire response.

According the the governor’s office, the reallocation of funding does not disrupt the state’s balanced budget.

The vetoes made way for more than $65 million and improved Oregon’s ending balance to $164.3 million in general funds and $16.7 million in lottery funds. Governor Brown also requested lawmakers reserve at least $150 million in the state’s emergency fund for potential requests relating to additional costs presented by the wildfires.

“Until we understand the total impacts and costs, we must help Oregonians while being judicious with our funds,” Governor Brown said in a statement Sunday. “In light of the current wildfires state of emergency, which occurred after the adjournment of the Second Special Session, I am exercising my veto authority to ensure that state agencies fighting wildfires have necessary resources for responding to this emergency.”

Under Article V, section 15a of the Oregon Constitution, the Governor is granted the “power to veto single items in appropriation bills . . . without thereby affecting any other provision of such bill.” Thus, Brown vetoed several items in Senate Bill 5723 as well as House Bill 4304. SB 5723 “appropriates moneys from General Fund to Emergency Board for allocations during biennium;” HB 4304 “modifies requirements relating to certain fiscal reports.”

Read the full list of line-item vetoes below:

Brown’s moves come just days after calling for investigations into the wildfires.

“There have been obviously some reports […] that at least some or parts of the fires in the state were started by downed electrical lines,” Brown said on Thursday. “In the coming days, coming weeks, there will be thorough investigations to determine the exact cause of these fires, including any role that downed power lines may have played as well as any responsibility that utilities may bear.”

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