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Kotek Memo: Kitzhaber "Likely" To Drag CRC into Special Session

Governor and House Speaker Continue To Push For Bridge Project

In March, Gov. John Kitzhaber and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) celebrated the passage of House Bill 2800, which provided $450 million for what was then the $3.4 billion Columbia River Crossing project.

The pair had convinced skeptical lawmakers to support the bill by including conditions for the expenditure of Oregon's $450 million—most notably, the condition or "trigger"  that Washington match Oregon's  contribution.

Here's what the bill said:

In a March 13 press conference, Kitzhaber referred to the safeguards in the bill, saying "this is prudently conditioned upon the state of Washington making their allocation to the project."

Speaking after Kitzhaber, Kotek also referred to the "triggers and strong financial oversight in the bill." 

But as a memo (PDF) from Kotek's staff WW obtained today shows, Kitzhaber and Kotek continue to move the project forward even though the most important condition in the bill—Washington's contribution—has not been met.

Kotek circulated a memo to House Democrats during the current interim legislative session that makes a mockery of the safeguards many lawmakers thought were protecting Oregon taxpayers. 

Salem observers expect the special legislative session the governor tentatively called for Sept. 30 to address cuts to the Public Employee Retirement System and possible tax increases. But Kotek's memo says the session is also likely to address reviving the CRC:

Mitch Greenlick
Tim Raphael