The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, April 11, 2017, Page 3A, Image 3

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    3A
THE DAILY ASTORIAN • TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2017
State budget
Early quake warning system
hangs on May
expands to Oregon, Washington
revenue forecast
Associated Press
The quarterly
numbers could
shape spending
By CLAIRE
WITHYCOMBE
Capital Bureau
SALEM — While law-
makers are now likely nego-
tiating the state’s budget
behind closed doors, Ore-
gonians may have a better
idea of what to expect once
state economists present the
quarterly revenue forecast in
mid-May.
Legislators are required
to pass a balanced bud-
get, but face an approxi-
mately $1.6 billion short-
fall between what the state
expects to bring through
the general fund and lottery
funds, and what it would
take to maintain existing
services.
Between those two
funds, available revenue is
expected to be about $20.9
billion, according to the
most recent quarterly rev-
enue forecast, which was
issued in February.
According to state Sen.
Richard Devlin, D-Tuala-
tin, one of the co-chairs of
the Joint Ways and Means
Committee, which writes the
state’s budget, the forecast
that comes out May 16 gives
budget writers “the most
accurate picture” of what’s
to come, once most income
tax returns have been filed.
The state’s general fund is
largely sourced from income
taxes.
With both budget cuts
and new taxes still in the
realm of possibility — and
with both options imbued
with political consequences
— state lawmakers could
turn to a strategy they’ve
tapped in the past: establish-
ing a bicameral “super com-
mittee” to hammer out big-
ticket policy items.
Such super commit-
tees, though not common,
have emerged in prior leg-
islative sessions. They
can form when legislators
think it could “help break
down some of the institu-
tional barriers” between the
House and Senate, said Jim
Moore, professor of politi-
cal science and director of
the Tom McCall Center for
Policy Innovation at Pacific
University.
Such a mega-commit-
tee could include party lead-
ership from both sides of
the aisle from each cham-
ber, and possibly members
of key policy committees —
such as health care or educa-
tion — Moore said.
But if the legislative ses-
sion starts in February, why
isn’t there more public infor-
mation about what the bud-
get will actually be until
three months later?
“When you come out
with a budget, you’re, in
effect, making promises,”
Moore said. If not all of them
can be kept, lawmakers “just
don’t want to go that far.”
Oregon passes its budget
in increments, with the big-
gest components of the bud-
get typically coming first.
Once the most signifi-
cant pieces of the budget are
passed — such as education,
public safety and human ser-
vice programs — budgets
for smaller agencies and pro-
grams fall into place, Moore
said.
This session, lawmak-
ers are also trying to craft a
transportation funding pack-
age. Health care costs are
another significant challenge
for the state as the federal
government gradually tapers
its support to states for Med-
icaid expansion.
The Capital Bureau is a
collaboration between EO
Media Group and Pamplin
Media Group.
SEATTLE — An early
warning system for earth-
quakes has been expanded to
Oregon and Washington state,
joining California in testing a
prototype that could give peo-
ple seconds or up to a minute
of warning before strong shak-
ing begins.
The system isn’t ready to
issue public quake warnings
yet, according to the U.S. Geo-
logical Survey, which has been
working with university part-
ners to develop the ShakeAlert
system.
But this version allows
early adopters in Oregon and
Washington state to begin
using the early signals to fig-
ure out what they need to do
in the event of an earthquake.
Such pilot projects are help-
ing to make the system more
reliable and pave the way for
broader use.
Officials with USGS, the
University of Washington and
others held a news conference
Monday in Seattle to announce
the system’s roll out across
the West Coast. California has
been testing the production
prototype since early 2016.
Even a few seconds of
advanced notice can help peo-
ple to duck and cover or cities
to slow trains, stop elevators or
take other protective measures,
agency officials say.
In Washington state, a Seat-
tle area firm RH2 Engineering
Danny Miller/The Daily Astorian
Students at Seaside High School participate in The Great Oregon ShakeOut quake drill.
has signed on as a pilot user to
test the system to prevent water
tank spills, The Seattle Times
reported. The firm develops
municipal water and sewage
plants and hopes to use the sys-
tem to be able to close valves
in the event of an earthquake.
“The advantage of earth-
quake early warning is that it
gives us forewarning that the
shaking will occur, and we can
be sure the valve is fully closed
by the time the shaking starts,”
the firm’s Dan Ervin told the
newspaper. The company is
working on software and hard-
ware to process the warning
signals and automatically close
valves.
The early warning sys-
tem detects earthquakes using
a network of ground motion
sensors. The amount of warn-
ing time depends on distance
from an earthquake’s epicen-
ter. Locations very close to
the epicenter may not get any
warning, but others farther
away could get anywhere from
seconds to minutes.
The University of Oregon
is working with the Eugene
Water & Electric Board, Ore-
gon’s largest public electric
and water utility service, to
install sensors on its hydro-
electric facilities, canals and
water treatment plant, the
Daily Astorian reported.
The USGS says it will cost
$38.3 million in capital invest-
ment to complete the Shake-
Alert system so that it can
begin issuing alerts to the pub-
lic. It will cost about $16.1 mil-
lion each year to operate and
maintain it.
Pacific sardine fishery closed for commercial season
Associated Press
SACRAMENTO — Fed-
eral fishery managers voted
Monday to keep the U.S.
West Coast Pacific sardine
fishery closed for the upcom-
ing commercial season.
This will be the third year
in a row there have not been
enough sardines to support a
fishery.
Sardines were a thriving
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