2018 Legislative Session in Review – Balancing the Budget and Responding to Federal Actions

House Speaker Tina Kotek

Balancing the Budget and Responding to Federal Actions

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last Saturday, the Legislature wrapped up a 27-day session. The session really worked the way it should – we dealt with emerging issues head on. Legislators’ major responsibility for the short session is to balance the state’s budget. Then, we take up unfinished business from last year’s session, address urgent issues, and make progress on emerging policy conversations.

In this week’s newsletter, I’ll highlight the budget and some of our actions as they relate to what’s happening on the national stage.  Next week, I’ll delve into more local issues.  As always, thanks for reading! 

A Balanced Budget

Oregon, like all states, continues to be caught up in sweeping changes at the national level. Unlike Congress, we cannot deficit spend. Given the impact of the Trump administration’s tax plan, we made sure we were spending responsibly in anticipation of budget challenges next year.

The Legislature dealt with the destabilizing effects of last year’s federal tax reform by disconnecting Oregon from some of the most unpredictable parts. Consequently, we were able to utilize a one-time $140 million infusion of cash from corporate tax changes to pay down the state’s pension debt, with a majority of that money going into the new School District Unfunded Liability Fund to help pay for K-12 PERS costs.  

Additionally, after adjusting the budget to address routine agency needs, the Legislature met its reserve obligations by depositing $200 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund – the dedicated fund in case of economic downturn or emergencies. We chose to make about $95 million in prudent, mostly one-time investments to build a future where everyone has access to the best that Oregon has to offer. A large piece of that investment included a $25.5 million funding package to improve the safety and well-being of Oregon’s foster children. Read more about the budget in my end-of-session press release.

Standing up for Consumers at Home and Online

After the Legislature adjourned last July, we learned that over half of Americans were impacted by the Equifax data breach, including 1.7 million Oregonians. Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency that has saved Americans millions of dollars by holding the financial services industry accountable. In response, we passed Senate Bill 1551, to protect consumers, including requirements that illegal access to personal data be reported more quickly and allowing consumers to freeze their credit for free. Oregonians deserve to know that they have rights if they are the victim of a data breach.

I’m committed to standing up for consumers at home and online. When the Trump-appointed Federal Communications Commission decided to overturn net neutrality protections, it exposed consumers to changes that allow internet service providers to cherry-pick which content users can access and how fast. This session, Oregon fought back with House Bill 4155, requiring state and local government agencies to only purchase broadband access from Internet providers in full compliance with net neutrality provisions.

Capping Carbon and Tackling Climate Change 

Under the Trump administration, the United States is now the only country to opt out of the Paris Climate Agreement emission goals. No one is coming to rescue Oregon from the devastating fire seasons, drought, and unprecedented storms that we are already experiencing. States will have to step up to maintain forward progress on combatting climate disruption.

During the six months leading up to session, we built momentum to pass a carbon cap and reinvestment policy, culminating with the introduction of the Clean Energy Jobs bills (HB 4001 and SB 1507) back in January. While the bills did not pass, Senate President Peter Courtney and I are committed to getting this done.  Accordingly, we will be co-chairing the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction which will make a recommendation on legislation for the 2019 session and we funded the necessary studies, which will be overseen by the newly-created Carbon Policy Office, to inform the work of the Joint Committee.

Thank You

Please watch for next week’s newsletter! Thank you for staying involved and engaged.

As always, please reach out to my office with your questions and concerns. You can email us at Rep.TinaKotek@oregonlegislature.gov or call us in Salem: 503-986-1200, or at our district office: 503-286-0558.




Tina Kotek

State Representative
House District 44

Speaker of the House

email: Rep.TinaKotek@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1200
address: 900 Court St NE, H-269, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/kotek