Oregon State Capitol, rotunda (Salem Reporter/file)
Salem-area legislators are hoping a one-time influx of federal cash could pay for local water upgrades, veteran housing and a new domestic violence shelter.
Last month, legislative leaders found themselves in an unusual position: they had millions in additional funds on the way that could be used on a wide range of purposes.
In March, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and Recovery Act. Oregon is anticipated to get $2.6 billion to cover state programs and service costs. The federal spending packaging also includes $780 million for new programs and services.
In response, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, sent lawmakers a survey asking how they wanted to spend $780 million in one-time federal funding.
“It’s a ton of money,” said Courtney.
He said that requests included housing, public safety, transportation, economic development and others.
The requests are currently before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means Committee, which is putting together a two-year budget.
Salem Reporter asked the Marion and Polk counties legislative delegation what they asked for. Here’s what they said.
State Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem
Courtney had three requests totaling over $20 million.
His requests include $6 million for an affordable housing development in Salem for low-income veterans that’s being developed by the local YMCA.
The second request would direct $6.9 million to set up the Willamette Career Academy in the old Toys-R-Us building at 1200 Lancaster Dr. N.E. The center would provide career and technical education to 480 students in 11 school districts in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties.
His third request is for $7.5 million for a three-story apartment building on top of the old Greyhound station. Working with the Center for Hope and Safety, the building will offer housing as well as services to survivors of domestic violence.
State Sen. Deb. Patterson, D-Salem
Patterson had multiple requests for local infrastructure projects. She asked for $3 to $4 million to upgrade the water system for the city of Turner, $500,000 to upgrade the housing authority apartments in Aumsville and $1 million for a sobering center for the city of Salem. She also requested $7.5 million in funding for the HOPE Plaza project.
Sen. Brian Boquist, I-Dallas
Boquist said he didn’t submit any requests.
“Vote is not for sale,” he said in an email.
State Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth
Evans said he was invited by the House speaker to “think big” in his requests.
Evans, who chairs the House Veterans and Emergency Management Committee, asked for $45 million to receive Navy ships, $20 million for the Port of Portland to secure fueling storage sites on the Columbia River and $35 million for storage and hangars to provide helicopter support after a catastrophe.
He requested $15 million for small business relief grants, $100 million to build five new regional Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training facilities, $15 million to purchase and distribute emergency response equipment and another $75 million for a statewide system of emergency preparedness facilities.
In addition to funding workforce training and seismic upgrades at airports, Evans also requested $400 million for a state bank, $500 million for carbon sequestration program, $50 million for a “Rural Oregon Innovation Endowment” program, $2.6 million to study the effects of smoke on wine grapes as well as others.
State Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem
In response to questions from Salem Reporter, Moore-Green responded with a three-page note giving an overview of her $26 million in requests.
They include spending on behavioral health, workforce development for employees at the soon-to-be-shuttered Mill Creek Correctional Facility and funds to help county public health response to a rise in syphilis cases.
She also requested funding for the Hope Plaza project and the Willamette Career Academy, also requested by Courtney.
State Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence
Nearman said in an email that he asked for sustainable funding for the disposal of abandoned recreational vehicles, which is the goal of Senate Bill 466, which he estimates is $5 million.
He also requested funding for the next phase of the Newburg-Dundee Bypass, which he said is over $300 million.
State Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer
Post said in an email that he submitted five requests on behalf of constituents. They include:
$150,000 to help Marion County CASA, which provides court-appointed advocates for vulnerable children, to help the program meet state staffing mandates.
$2.4 million for the Marion County Fire District to fill nine of the 12 emergency responder positions cut last year.
$250,000 to help the city of Keizer develop its master plan, which would help revitalize and improve the Volcanoes Stadium and surrounding area.
$9 million to help the Chehalem Cultural Center expand programming to meet community demand by constructing a 250 seat theatre and renovation of the grand lobby.
$1 million for a St. Paul water and sewer expansion.
State Rep. Teresa Alonso León, D- Woodburn
Alonso León responded to Salem Reporter’s inquiry with eight pages describing her 21 requests totaling over a billion dollars.
Her requests include funding for community centers, city infrastructure, training multilingual health care workers, supporting a local Latino-focused radio station, attorneys for people facing deportation, a fund that supports unemployed workers who can’t access traditional support programs and others.
State Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, as well as Sens. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, and Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer didn’t respond to an email from Salem Reporter asking about their funding requests.
Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.
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