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Casualties of political battles fall far from the Capitol

Political dispute costs Sourthern Oregon irrigation district construction project $1.9 million.

Sometimes people far from Salem are the casualties of battles fought in the Capitol.

For example, a political dispute over new taxes on health care in Oregon is being blamed for an irrigation district losing $1.9 million construction project.

Lawmakers approved money for the Bradshaw Drop Irrigation Canal Piping Project in July as part of a broader spending bill, but Gov. Kate Brown vetoed funding for that project and several others in Southern Oregon.

Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, said he agreed to vote for the health care taxes — giving the proposal the necessary three-fifths majority to pass the House — in return for the spending projects.

Esquivel later threw his support behind an effort to refer the health care taxes to voters as part of a ballot initiative.

In retaliation, he said, Brown vetoed several projects that are important to his district.

"She's vindictive toward me," he said. "She's politicizing good projects just for vindictiveness."

A spokesman for the governor did not respond to a request for comment, but in her written announcement of the vetoes, Brown said, "The cornerstone of all negotiations whether they occur in a public or private arena, is the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing."