Seven months into the state’s two-year budget cycle, officials at the Oregon Department of Forestry say they’ve blown through most of the budget that lawmakers approved for the entire biennium and are asking lawmakers for an emergency cash infusion.
A large infusion – from $52 million to $132 million – otherwise, agency officials say, they’ll have exhausted their budget by March.
It’s a Band-Aid fix for a structural problem, and it comes as lawmakers and the governor are looking to expand the agency even further. They’re sponsoring bills that would bolster the agency’s firefighting capabilities and forest restoration work – above and beyond the immediate budget requests. And such plans are coming without any cohesive strategy to make sure the agency is on firm financial footing and has the resources and managerial wherewithal to do its job.