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Governor's transportation tour cost $10,000

Gov. Kate Brown spent more than $10,000 of taxpayers' dollars to visit five cities and reenact her signing of a $5.3 billion transportation funding bill.

JAIME VALDEZ/PORTLAND TRIBUNE - Gov. Kate Brown applauds lawmakers involved in crafting a $5.3 billion transportation funding bill during a ceremonial signing at Portland Community College Southeast campus Aug. 29, 2017.SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown's office spent more than $10,000 of taxpayers' dollars to travel the state Aug. 28-29 and commemorate her signing of a $5.3 billion transportation funding bill.

The expenditure came eight months after Brown said in her inaugural address that state government "must do everything possible this year and every year to ensure that each and every tax dollar is spent wisely and efficiently." The Legislature also required state agencies to reduce travel expenses by 10 percent for the next two years to help offset a $1.4 billion state deficit.

The statewide tour came 10 days after the governor actually signed the transportation funding bill.

It also was timed about a month before Brown announced her plan to seek reelection in 2018.

The bulk of the $10,149.34 the Governor's Office spent for the visit to five cities came from hiring a private air charter to transport Brown and her staffers to the events, according to copies of receipts and invoices requested by the Pamplin/EO Capital Bureau.

Brown and her staff flew to Ontario, Bend and Medford Aug. 28 and Eugene and Portland Aug. 29 to reenact the signing of the bill and to highlight projects benefiting those respective areas.

The Governor's Office paid Portland-based Devinaire $9,238 to fly Brown and her employees for a total of about five flight hours between the five cities, plus a stop in Redmond.

Brown and her staff had planned to use the Oregon Department of Forestry's plane for the two-day trip, but "at the last minute," the aircraft was unavailable "due to the wildfire fighting," according to a Sept. 21 note in the expense file.

"The transportation bill was such a significant achievement for so many legislators and Oregonians, with hundreds of people lined up to attend these events across the state, cancelling at the last minute was not prudent or responsible," the note stated.

The other some $900 expenses were associated with Brown's communication staff's hotel stays, rental cars, fuel and meals.

In addition to the governor's expenses, taxpayers also paid at least $666 for Oregon Department of Transportation employees to participate in the events, according to public records requested by the bureau.