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Surprise! Legislature discovers $50M

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Before the votes on Measures 66 and 67, state Sen. Chris Telfer, R-Bend, was asking questions about millions or billions that the state might have sitting around in accounts and not being used to solve budget problems. Telfer was told the money couldn’t be touched, shouldn’t be touched or doesn’t exist. Secretary of State Kate Brown released a statement before the election scolding anyone who suggested that the state had unfettered access to such money.

And then, like magic – after the votes on Measures 66 and 67 – $50 million appeared. The Legislative Fiscal Office identified $50 million that the Legislature swept from various accounts to help mend the state’s budget gap.

Where did it come from?

The biggest chunk was $31 million from the Tax Amnesty Fund. That was a new program created by the Legislature in 2009 for people to pay back taxes they owed that the state didn’t know about. Some of the $50 million came in small pieces. The Board of Licensed Social Workers, which licenses social workers, had $41,000 removed from its account. Martin Pittioni, the board’s executive director, said $41,000 is basically what the board spends in a month. The Legislative Fiscal Office says it reduces the board’s reserves to 4.5 months.


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