Merkley, Wyden Announce Oregon Projects Promoting Economic Development and Community Safety Pass in 2024 Funding Package

Funding included in the FY24 minibus appropriations package champions Oregon manufacturing, employment training opportunities, and enhanced emergency response coordination.

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced major economic development and community safety improvement investments for Oregon—including over $16 million in funding for 15 critical community-initiated projects across the state—have passed through the fiscal year 2024 (FY24) minibus funding package. This six-bill package cleared both chambers of Congress last week and was quickly signed into law by President Biden.

Successfully pushing back against the most extreme funding cuts and harmful policy provisions proposed by House Republicans, Merkley and Wyden secured the investments in the FY24 Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) bill in the funding package.

The CJS funding bill also supports programs and projects that boost job creation and innovation—particularly in rural, coastal, and underserved communities—and public safety system upgrades that will better protect Oregon communities from wildfire threats and other disasters.

“As I hold a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year, I hear firsthand from folks about what matters most to them, including robustly supporting Oregon’s economic development and ensuring our communities are prepared should disasters strike,” Merkley said. “The community-initiated projects funded in these bills will boost rural and coastal infrastructure and salmon recovery efforts and help upgrade public safety and emergency alert systems to keep Oregonians safe during disasters.”

“These key federal investments will generate jobs throughout Oregon and make our entire state a safer place to live and work,” Wyden said. “I’m glad the teamwork with Oregonians who shared their priorities with me and Senator Merkley in town halls and other settings has produced such community-strengthening resources to bolster public safety, fight climate change, create educational opportunities and reduce homelessness.”

Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, which is one of the most powerful committees on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.

The 15 community-initiated projects championed by Merkley and Wyden that passed in the CJS portion of the FY24 minibus funding package—with the support of members of Oregon’s congressional delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives—are as follows:

  • $2,521,000 for the Oregon Kelp Alliance to help address marine habitat loss while providing benefits for community well-being, ecosystem services, climate resilience, and biodiversity. This project will restore 3-6 hectares of declining kelp forest habitat and benefit various coastal communities by increasing essential fish habitat, business opportunities in ecotourism and recreation, as well as enhancing job opportunities in kelp restoration work.
  • $2 million for Lake County to upgrade its current public safety interoperable radio and microwave system. Lake County is Oregon’s third largest county by land area, and the funding will help modernize its microwave and radio systems so public safety agencies in the south end of the county can hear the north end public safety radio traffic. This project will address major officer safety issues, better handle call volume increases, and support more reliable, clear radio communication in the event of emergencies.
  • $1.8 million for Marion County to install an emergency announcement system with loudspeakers in strategic locations in the Santiam Canyon. This will help ensure community members are notified of emergencies, such as wildfires, flooding, landslides, or dam failures given the unreliable phone and radio service in the remote area.
  • $1,359,000 to help the City of Portland expedite the launch of a body-worn cameras program for officers and help ensure the longevity of the program to support further safety and transparency in law enforcement.
  • $1,087,000 to help fund a fisheries vulnerability assessment through Oregon State University to provide timely, science-based information to better support science-informed community engagement in the Floating Offshore Wind development process.  
  • $1,045,000 for the Oregon Institute of Technology to purchase solar manufacturing research equipment to create a Thin Film Research & Development Center at OIT’s Wilsonville campus, allowing students hands-on training and the potential for industry partnerships. 
  • $963,000 for Portland State University (PSU) to create a transportation decarbonization resource hub. This will create a resource center to help government agencies, Tribal governments, and community partners better understand and prioritize transportation decarbonization investments via the development of analytical tools, which will assess the impact of transportation decarbonization activities.  Secured with support from Rep. Bonamici.
  • $963,000 for Washington County to rehabilitate law enforcement facilities. This will help fund the replacement of the HVAC system in Washington County’s three congregate care facilities and a portion of the county courthouse. Secured with support from Rep. Salinas.
  • $963,000 for Benton County to enhance Regional Public Safety Radio Infrastructure. The funds will support their installation of three antennas and purchase of new radios to eliminate “dead-zones” in communication between agencies. This project will improve public safety and emergency response in Benton County by enhancing interoperability and situational awareness between law enforcement and Fire/EMS. Secured with support from Rep. Hoyle.
  • $963,000 for the City of Eugene to replace body-worn cameras and in-car video systems for the City’s police department. This will help ensure the longevity of the program to support further safety and transparency in law enforcement. The systems record interactions between police officers and the public, capturing evidence and providing an impartial accounting of events. These systems are a vital component of the local Criminal Justice System. Secured with support from Rep. Hoyle.
  • $880,000 to help the City of Medford acquire a Mobile Incident Command Center which will provide a central hub for coordinating emergency response and significantly enhance regional resiliency among the City of Medford and its partners throughout the Rogue Valley. 
  • $552,000 for Coos County’s Records Reduction and Accessibility Project. The funding will be used to acquire and operate digital scanning equipment for local law enforcement to digitize paperwork to be scanned as a matter of public record. Secured with support from Rep. Hoyle.
  • $500,000 for Clackamas County’s Clackamas School-Based Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Juvenile Justice Prevention Program. The funding will be used for staffing costs to expand an existing program that screens students in Clackamas County for potential substance abuse and connects them with appropriate services. Secured with support from Rep. Chavez-DeRemer.
  • $300,000 for the City of Tigard to support a full-time Homelessness Community Service Officer,ensuring the officer’s salary is sustained for two years. Secured with support from Rep. Salinas.
  • $300,000 to support the final major equipment needs for the Columbia Gorge Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Program, which consists of two labs used by all programs offered by CGCC, high school pathway programs, and local businesses in the area.  

For quotes from community-initiated project recipients included in the CJS portion of the FY24 minibus funding package, click HERE.

Other key funding in the CJS portion includes:

Economic Development Administration (EDA): $468 million was secured for the program through the CJS funding bill. The EDA leverages existing regional assets to support economic development in rural communities.

Klamath Basin Salmon Restoration: As historic dam removal continues in the Klamath River Basin, it is vital for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal agencies to have a comprehensive strategy for habitat restoration and recovery of salmon to the Basin. The CJS funding bill directs NOAA to develop an investment strategy for the entire Basin in anticipation for the completion of the dam removal.

Salmon Recovery: The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund received $65 million in the CJS funding bill. The competitive grant program is designed to address declining Pacific salmon and steelhead populations by supporting conservation efforts in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska. 

Sea Grant Program:  $80 million for the National Sea Grant College Program is secured in the CJS funding bill. The program is a priority for Oregon State University and uses targeted local investments to create economic growth, sustainable fisheries, and resilient coastal communities.

Coastal Zone Management: The Coastal Zone Management grants were funded at $32 million in the CJS funding bill. The program works with Oregon and other coastal states to address some of today’s most pressing coastal issues — climate change, ocean planning, and planning for energy facilities and development. These grants help protect natural resources, improve public access, facilitate coordination between state and federal authorities, and manage hazardous areas.

Tribal Grants and Victim Assistance: Historically, the Native and Tribal community in Oregon has been disenfranchised in law enforcement, health outcomes, and victims’ rights. To address these critical issues, the committee approved a total of $118 million in grant funding for various programs, including $50 million for Tribal assistance, $34 million for Tribal resources, and $4 million for the Office of Violence Against Women for a special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction program.

Addressing Violence Against Women: The CJS funding bill contains $713 million for grants provided by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. This funding supports multiple grant programs that support training for police officers and prosecutors, state domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions, rape prevention programs, domestic violence hotlines, and women’s shelters and transitional housing support services.

With half of the key government funding bills for FY24 now passed by Congress and signed into law, Merkley and Wyden will keep working to ensure the remaining six funding bills follow suit later this month without steep cuts to programs and projects Oregon families rely on. Passing these bills is necessary to avoid a partial government shutdown that would be harmful to communities across the state and nation.