Gov. Brown inaugurated as budget shortfall looms

Kotek, Courtney re-elected to lead House, Senate

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Gov. Kate Brown has been sworn in to complete the remaining two years of John Kitzhaber's term.

In her inaugural address on Monday, Brown said the biggest obstacle to creating a better future for Oregon is a $1.7 billion budget deficit. Her budget proposal that the Legislature will debate after it convenes on Feb. 1 accounts for the entire shortfall. It does so by raising some taxes and cutting some spending.

Brown said that to build the economies of rural communities that have been left behind by the recovery from the Great Recession, the state should rebuild bridges along the coast and improve Highway 97 that runs down the middle of the state.

Earlier, the Oregon Senate unanimously re-elected Democrat Peter Courtney as president of the chamber as the Legislature prepares for the session that starts in February.

Democrats hold 17 seats in the Senate, and Republicans 13.

Tina Kotek, a Democrat from Portland, was re-elected earlier Monday as speaker of the state House of Representatives.

Kotek received 35 votes. Mike McLane, a Republican from Powell Butte, received 25. Democrats have 35 seats in the 60-seat chamber while Republicans have 25.

Brown, formerly the secretary of state, ascended to the governor's office two years ago, when John Kitzhaber resigned amid an influence-peddling probe. Brown won election in November to remain in office for the final two years of Kitzhaber's term.

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