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Oregon Lawmakers Consider Funding Request To Deal With Costs Of Refuge Occupation

Chris Phan

Oregon lawmakers are considering a request to spend about $2.5 million to cover the costs of dealing with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. A legislative budget panel will take up the proposal Monday.

The bulk of the money would go towards law enforcement costs such as overtime, lodging and transportation. The largest single recipient would be the Oregon State Police. Officers from more than two dozen other agencies around the state also responded during the 41-day occupation, which began January 2.

Some of the money would also go to cover part of the costs incurred by the Harney County School District, which canceled classes for a week but still had to pay teachers and staff.

The agencies are asking lawmakers for $2.5 million, but legislative fiscal analysts are recommending a smaller amount of just over $2 million. Most of that money was approved by lawmakers earlier this year, but until now there was no specific plan for how to divvy it up.

The state is also asking the federal government for financial aid to cover the cost to state and local agencies. If that money is approved, it would be used to offset the money spent by Oregon lawmakers.

The funding request doesn't cover the cost to federal agencies for the occupation, which are expected to surpass the cost to state and local agencies.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.