Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp of Bend said Wednesday that all 30 Oregon state senators are sponsoring a bill calling for an end to taxpayer-funded travel reimbursements for state workers who live outside the state. And he says it has “impressive” bipartisan support in the House.
The travel reimbursement was a policy put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Knopp said the legislation — introduced Wednesday — is in response to a news report last year in the Willamette Week. That August 17, 2022 report found a Department of Administrative Services policy allowed state employees to work remotely in other states and have their travel reimbursed by taxpayers. You can read the full policy here.
The article highlighted the cases of two high-level Oregon Lottery officials who both left the state in 2021 for Texas and Florida. Neither state has an individual income tax.
The report says each made just under $200,000 in salary. Travel costs for both in 2022, combined, were were just over $4,000.
“Last summer, I heard from taxpayers and state employees alike who were outraged at the practice of reimbursing travel for out-of-state, highly-paid government workers to be flown back to Oregon to do their job at taxpayer expense. It’s a fundamental equity issue. Most local state employees don’t get paid to commute to work,” Knopp said in a statement. “I’m thankful to have 29 Senate co-sponsors and impressive bipartisan support in the House. Now begins the work of advancing it through the process.”
Knopp said the bill is part of Senate Republicans’ “Equitable Oregon” agenda.