Cuts, reserve funds help lawmakers balance Oregon budget

By SARA CLINE

(AP) SALEM – Oregon lawmakers cut hundreds of millions of dollars from state agencies and tapped emergency reserves to help plug a $1 billion budget deficit due to COVID-19 shutdowns and also further restricted police chokeholds during a testy, day-long special session.

Some leading lawmakers had hoped to focus the special session, which began Monday and adjourned after 11 p.m., only on spending matters.

The Legislature had been tasked with filling a $1.2 billion budget hole. Lawmakers cut roughly $400 million across state agencies and used about $400 million in emergency funds from the Education Stability Fund to help repair the budget.

The total adopted state budget for the 2019-21 biennium is nearly $86 billion, about a 10% increase from the 2017-19 legislatively approved budget.

A measure further restricting the use of chokeholds by police also passed the Oregon Legislature by wide margins Monday night.

House Bill 4301 prohibits the use of chokeholds by police or corrections officers except for self-defense as defined by law.

“It’s long past time we disallowed officers from using chokeholds,” Sen. James Manning, D-Eugene, said. “It’s wrong and it can be lethal. It is not a tool to deescalate. It’s a tool to take a life.”

The measure passed the House 55 to 2 and the Senate 22 to 5.

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