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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon's Senate President Says Lawmakers Should Support Mental Health Investments

Oregon Legislature
Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney

In a year when Oregon lawmakers are grappling with a $1.6 billion budget shortfall, even some legislative leaders are having trouble gaining traction for their priorities.

Senate President Peter Courtney made the case Monday for keeping mental health programs off the chopping block in the upcoming spending plan.

"There are cuts and there are cuts, okay? And I think mental health is taking a disproportionate amount of cuts,” Courtney said. “And there are certain things you can't cut as much as others. That's what I'm telling you."

Courtney said he was especially angry about proposals to close a state-run psychiatric hospital in Junction City. That plan was contained in cost cutting proposals from both Gov. Kate Brown and legislative budget writers.