Gov. Kotek announces budget priorities for 2023-25: Homelessness, addiction care and more

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:56 AM PST
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SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - Oregon Governor Tina Kotek gave the public a first look at what she want’s the state’s budget to prioritize over the next two years.

The governor is calling her budget proposal “Mission Focused” and it totals about $32.1 billion. This number is made up of the state’s general fund and lottery funds. This is a budget increase of 3 billion dollars from the last time Oregon’s wallet was debated in the state capital. Kotek said there will be no new tax increase and instead her budget will use more than $700 million that would go into the rainy day fund. But she made it clear at a press conference on Tuesday, the $2 billion already in Oregon’s rainy day fund will not be touched. Her budget focuses on three main categories, the housing and homeless crisis, mental health and addiction care, and education and childcare. Kotek said these are issues in the state both sides of the aisle can agree need to be urgently addressed.

“There is a lot of consistency across many of the caucuses about their priorities, housing and homelessness, housing and addiction, and schools,” Kotek said. “I’ve met with republican leaders as well and we need to focus on what we all think is the shared concerns.”

The governor said housing and the homeless crisis should be the first to get money. She wants state legislators to immediately pass the $130 million portion of her budget she outlined last week to start getting houseless Oregonians off the streets. She also wants $770 million to go to building new affordable housing and $172 million to go to long-term rental assistance. When it comes to a request from the Oregon League of Cities to add in reoccurring funds for their efforts to tackle the homeless crisis, the governor said that’s not included.

“They’re on the ground doing the work every day in our communities,” Kotek said. “My budget supports that and we probably need to do more. It’s a starting point and I can’t wait to work with them on it.”

When it comes to education, the governor wants to increase the state school fund by $9 billion and she’s making it a goal some of the money will be used to help boost students’ literacy scores. Mental and behavioral health services would also see a funding increase with more money going to treatment, access, and boosting salaries of social workers.

SEE ALSO: Kotek outlines how she’d spend $130M to tackle Oregon’s homelessness crisis

The Oregon House Republican Caucus sent FOX 12 a statement in response to the governor’s proposed budget:

“Oregonians are experiencing an inflation rate over eight percent and economists are predicting a mild recession over the next year. The Governor’s budget reflects the financial vulnerability individuals are feeling on a daily basis. House Republicans believe the state budget should look more after Oregon families than our state bureaucracy.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020), the State of Oregon has spent almost $1 billion in funding on the homelessness crisis. This was done under Governor Kotek’s watch as Speaker. Now, Governor Kotek wants to spend another $305 million over the next two years, not including $705 million in debt refinancing authority.

Our Caucus is optimistic the Governor’s budget does not call for tax increases, but we remain concerned Governor Kotek and her agencies will raise fees on hardworking Oregonians. While the Governor’s budget does not take the Kicker, we are committed to returning these hard-earned dollars back to Oregon taxpayers.

The Governor focused her budget on several topics our Caucus has also identified as priorities. However, we are disappointed there was no initial mention of other crises impacting our state such as transportation backlogs, a severe drought impacting our agriculture industry, public safety in our communities, or Oregon’s severe public defender crisis.

Even though we are pleased the Governor acknowledged many of the struggles our students are facing, we cannot ignore Oregon’s reality as one of the lowest ranking states in student achievement. We believe in funding education with reform to the Oregon Department of Education.

And finally, as the Caucus that represents every corner of our state, one of our greatest concerns remains that the Governor’s proposed homelessness initiative does not reach beyond the urban centers of our state. If Governor Kotek is going to stay “Mission Focused” on being a Governor for all of Oregon, this must start now.”

The governor doesn’t have the authority to set the state’s budget, it’s up to the legislature. They have until the end of the legislative session to do so. If you’d like to review the governor’s proposed budget, you click here.