OR Budget: Drastic implications for natural resources

 

Ways and Means co-chairs’ ‘no new revenue’ budget has drastic implications for Oregon natural resources and public services

Jan. 19, 2017:  Co-chairs of Oregon’s legislative Ways and Means committee released their proposed budget for the 2017-19 biennium, which assumes “no new revenue” is generated.

This budget is a wake up call for all Oregonians.

Our state is facing a total budget shortfall that exceeds $1.8 billion for the next two years. Today’s budget proposal means that Oregon’s natural resources, public amenities and programs will be cut or eliminated unless something is done.

It’s been absolutely clear for years that Oregon needs more revenue,” said Doug Moore, Executive Director of Oregon League of Conservation Voters. “Across the board, the cuts in this budget endanger our health, our natural resources, and our unique quality of life. We can and must do better.”

“Cuts to DEQ and other natural resource agencies means we set ourselves back in protecting Oregonians’ health and communities for generations to come,” said Andrea Durbin, Executive Director of Oregon Environmental Council. “Oregonians want clean air and water — important natural resources that can’t be protected without adequate funding of the agencies designed to do this work.”

In short, today’s legislative budget proposal includes cuts to:

  1. Department of Environmental Quality – Reduce staffing for the Portland Harbor Superfund site coordination that was added during the current biennium, reduce biomonitoring data collection, reduce water quality plan implementation in Eastern Oregon, reduce funding added to coordinate with other agencies on the Integrated Water Resources Strategy, and/or reduce nonpoint source pollution policy development.
  2. Oregon Department of Agriculture – Shift funding for the Pesticide Analytical Response Center to pesticides program fees, shift funding for some Food Safety inspectors to program fees, reduce positions in the Agriculture Water Quality program, reduce funding for the Wolf Compensation and Grant Assistance Program, and/or reduce funding for Predator Control.
  3. Department of Land Conservation and Development – Reduce the Planning Program through staffing and services and supplies cuts.
  4. Water Resources Department – Reduce water availability feasibility studies grants, and reduce positions, services and supplies in the Technical Services Division.
  5. Department of Fish and Wildlife – Reduce Predator Control Funding and funding for the Western Oregon Stream Restoration program.
  6. Department of Forestry – Reduce support for Rangeland Protection Associations, reduce subsidies for low-productivity woodlands, reduce funding for the Sudden Oak Death program, reduce funding for the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds Administration, redirect the ongoing maintenance budget for the yet-to-be implemented e-procurement system, reduce the subsidy in private landowner per-acre assessments for base fire protection related to agency administration costs, reduce agency administrative costs, and reduce assessments for the Equipment Pool.
  7. Columbia River Gorge Commission – Reduce services and supplies expenditures, including travel, information technologies maintenance, and contract services.
  8. Department of Geology and Mineral Industries – Eliminate a vacant position and adjust administrative overhead charges between programs.
  9. Transportation Program Area – Reduce public transit subsidies for seniors and persons with disabilities. Reduce General Fund support for intercity passenger rail.

“The recent audit of the Oregon Water Resources Department recognized that the OWRD needs sufficient data to make sustainable water management decisions,” said Kimberley Priestley, Senior Policy Analyst at WaterWatch. “A budget that makes cuts to precisely the work the audit determined is needed is 180 degrees from the direction the state needs to go.”

This budget contains unacceptable cuts to fish programs including ODFW’s Western Stream Restoration program ODF’s Oregon Salmon Plan, WRD’s water feasibility grants, and DEQ’s Water Resources Strategy and for non-point source pollution policy development. Fish are struggling with increased temperatures and environmental challenges — these programs on the chopping block are critical to their recovery.

“The transportation budget proposal hits hardest the most vulnerable in our society — seniors, those with disabilities, those of lower income, and those who live in rural communities,” said Mary Kyle McCurdy, Interim Executive Director of 1,000 Friends of Oregon. “Additionally, DLCD cuts would come out of the very programs designed to address Oregon’s widespread housing needs and climate goals.”

In December, Governor Kate Brown released a proposed 2017-19 budget which recommended $800 to $900 million in new revenue along with an equivalent amount of cuts. The co-chairs’ budget does not include any revenue that is not already set in current state law.

In order to protect Oregon’s vital natural resources and social services, we support a discussion about new revenue this legislative session. We need to move forward as a state and support these vital programs that protect the people, wildlife, lands, water, and air in Oregon.


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