Full statements by Senate President Wagner and Sens. Steiner and Lieber

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Statement from Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, D-Portland, outgoing Senate co-chair of the Oregon Legislature’s joint budget committee:

“It has been an honor to serve in this critical role to ensure that state revenues go toward the maximum benefit for all Oregonians. I’ve held this position through historic surpluses and historic deficits, times of extreme uncertainty and times when hard decisions needed to be made. Through it all my focus has been on finding fiscally responsible ways to help as many Oregonians as possible.

“I’m proud to say that Oregon is in a much more fiscally secure position now than it was when I was appointed co-chair in the fall of 2018. Six years ago, Oregon had about $671 million in the rainy day fund; today, it has an estimated $1.87 billion. That money will be critical when the next economic downturn strikes our state.

“When I look back on my time as co-chair, I will remember the innovative solutions we were able to use to fully fund Oregon’s portion of the I-5 bridge replacement and the Roseburg veterans’ home. As a physician, I’m also personally very proud that we fully funded Healthier Oregon, which ensured that almost every Oregonian has health insurance.

“I want to thank co-chair Tawna Sanchez, the unmatched professionals in the Legislative Fiscal Office, my fellow legislators, and the presiding officers for their support and partnership over the years. I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure a smooth transition to the next co-chair in the coming months.”

Statement from Sen. Kate Lieber, D-Beaverton, who is resigning as majority leader to succeed Steiner as Senate co-chair of the joint budget committee, effective on July 15:

“I am excited to take on this new challenge on behalf of the people of Oregon, and this was not an easy decision to make.

“I have big shoes to fill. Senator Steiner is an incredible leader and a highly-effective steward of Oregonians’ tax dollars. Our state is in a stronger financial position in no small part due to her tenure as co-chair of Ways and Means.

“It is bittersweet to leave my role as Senate majority leader. It has been an absolute honor to serve my colleagues, and I am so proud of the work our caucus has done to turn Oregon’s shared challenges into shared solutions. I expect there will be an election for a new majority leader soon, and I look forward to working with my successor to ensure a smooth transition.

“Those who know me know that I have been interested in taking on a bigger role with our state’s budget since I was first elected. Throughout my time in the legislature, I have been part of some of the most complex funding negotiations for Oregon’s toughest problems, including securing $1.2 billion in new behavioral health funding during the 2021 session and most recently delivering hundreds of millions of dollars to start to holistically tackle the drug crisis in Oregon.

“As co-chair, I am committed to asking good questions, running an inclusive and open process, and working hard to address our most urgent priorities while keeping our state in strong, stable financial health. I am grateful to President Wagner for trusting me with this responsibility, and I look forward to working with him, Speaker Fahey, co-chair Tawna Sanchez, our Republican vice-chairs, the dedicated professionals in the Legislative Fiscal Office, and all of my legislative colleagues to deliver a budget that reflects our Oregon values.”

Statement from Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, who appoints committee leaders and members:

“I want to offer my most sincere appreciation to Senator Steiner for the dedication, ingenuity, and hard work she has demonstrated as Senate co-chair for the past six years. Under her leadership, the Ways and Means Committee’s process has been inclusive and bipartisan, the Legislature has invested wisely across Oregon, and we have set aside enough funds to give the state a buffer during the next economic downturn.

“I have accepted her resignation knowing that she is once again acting with the best interests of the people of Oregon at the forefront of her mind.

“I also have the privilege today of appointing Senator Kate Lieber as the next Senate co-chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

“Since joining the Senate, Senator Lieber has shown a propensity and acuity for the budget process, including taking a leading role in guiding millions of dollars in behavioral health investments in the 2024 legislative session. She is a thoughtful legislator who cares about making sure all sides and perspectives are taken into consideration before a final decision is made. She understands the responsibility of the Ways and Means co-chair and knows there are urgent challenges that she will face in taking this position.

“I have full confidence that Senator Lieber will deftly lead our budgeting process as Senate co-chair and ensure the state’s resources are being responsibly invested to benefit all Oregonians.”


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