REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Special Session #1 Remarks, Toplines and Q&A
June 27, 2020
I called the Oregon Legislature into session because Oregon needs to take further action in response to two crises unfolding across the country.
The first is related to the ongoing and urgent concerns caused by the COVID-19 crisis and the economic threat the pandemic poses to families who were already struggling to get by.
Oregonians trying to keep their jobs. And small businesses trying to stay afloat.
The legislature took action this week:
● Extending the moratorium on evictions that I first put in place through executive order. This will allow working families to stay in their apartments and homes and small businesses to continue operating, in the midst of the pandemic.
● Protecting CARES Act payments from garnishment so federal dollars go directly into people’s pockets.
● Creating a moratorium on foreclosures so people and small businesses who are late on their mortgage don’t lose their home or their place of business while they are working to get back on track.
● And while it may not be the sexiest legislative proposal, I was really pleased to see the legislature finally make a significant investment in rural broadband internet access. The pandemic has shown that internet access is no longer a luxury. It’s now a basic necessity.
These bills came together quickly. But they will have lasting impact for our state. I applaud lawmakers for taking swift action.
I also called lawmakers into this special session in order to respond to the clarion call for police reform.
Across the state, tens of thousands of Oregonians have taken to the streets to demand racial justice and police accountability.
It isn’t just big marches in Portland. People in small towns, suburbs, and rural areas are also standing up to say Black Lives Matter.
Let me be really clear: The crisis of racism and racial inequity in this country has only worsened since President Trump took office. This is a President who, on a daily basis, stokes the flames of hatred and division, rather than building bridges of unity and healing.
I called this legislature together because I don’t want to hear the words “I can’t breathe” uttered from the mouth of a single Oregonian. Not from one more American.
The entrenched racial inequities in our justice system are a long-term problem. And it will take more than three days’ work in our state capitol to set our state on a course toward justice and equity for all.
That said, I am proud that lawmakers came together to take several important steps forward, including:
● Limiting the use of choke holds and tear gas.
● Setting up a statewide database for police disciplinary cases.
● And preventing an arbitrator from overturning the discipline of a police officer.
It is worth noting that the proposal to have the Attorney General oversee review of use-of-force cases will be taken up by a task force. We need to get this done. But it must be done right.
Even as we take these steps forward, our task to eradicate racism in this country remains monumental. Our intention is to not just talk -- but to act. This work is not the end. It’s the beginning.
I want to recognize the People of Color Caucus of the legislature for their leadership in pushing us to be bolder and move faster on the road to justice. And particular thanks to Representative Bynum and Senator Frederick for their courage, their tenacity, and their dedication.
These last few days have been an opportunity for lawmakers to set aside partisan differences and to take action for the people of our state. And they have done so.
I thank lawmakers for their time and dedication.
In the coming weeks, we will need to take further action on our state’s finances. As I have said before, I anticipate calling the Legislature into a second special session to rebalance our state budget.
I already outlined roughly 150 million dollars in cuts to trim budget expenses for this biennium. Luckily, we are better prepared for this economic downturn than many others in my lifetime, with state reserves and the rainy day fund currently in place.
We are holding off the next session for a few weeks to give Congress time to take action. And I hope Congressional leaders will hear the call from states across the country and step in with additional federal support.
In the meantime, there are some additional investments that we must make with existing federal dollars.
Next week I’ll be sharing a plan with the Legislature to use Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to support our Black communities, for investments in health equity, and to provide relief for working people who need to take time off if they are sick with COVID-19.
It is incredibly important that we get dollars to the communities most impacted by the pandemic. And that we help working people when they need to stay home from work due to the disease.
Finally, I want to reiterate how crucial it is for students to have a chance to make up for lost time in the classroom. The Department of Education is working with school boards, educators, and parents to plan for the fall.
And I’m not willing to see our school districts laying teachers off just as schools are preparing to reopen. As we look toward budget adjustments, I remain committed to maintaining a $9 billion state school fund budget for our K through 12 schools.
Thank you. I’m happy to take questions.