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“I think this whole thing stinks,” Oregon State Senator Ted Feroli told the Dalles newspaper. He quit a state forestry task force in disgust last week after the Senate’s Ways and Means committee slashed funding for rural development programs. Feroli, a Republican who represents rural Eastern Oregon, is the state’s Senate Minority Leader.
“Within the past 60 days…we have witnessed elimination of the Office of Rural Policy, the defunding of Rural Development Initiatives and the release of a report from the state economist marginalizing chronic unemployment in rural areas of the state,” Feroli wrote in his letter of resignation. The committee’s co-chairs are two Democrats from Portland and Canby.
The co-chairs cut the rural development program from $7.1 million to $2 million, adding restrictions to how the lesser amount could be spent.
Susan Morgan (R-Myrtle Creek), a Ways and Means committee member, said the cuts reflected growing disparities between urbanites and ruralites, Democrats and Republicans in Oregon’s statehouse. “It has historically been rural Republicans that fight for that funding,” Morgan said, “so now that there really aren’t any of us that are anywhere near the decision-making part of the process, it’s kind of fallen off the table.””¨