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Oregon House speaker calls for December special session to provide COVID-19 relief

Oregon Capitol with trees

Seeks using $100 million in reserves; revenue forecast released; statements from governor, lawmakers, manufacturers

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek is calling for a special session in order for lawmakers to allocate additional funds that would help Oregonians struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kotek on Wednesday said she is particularly interested in seeing the state spend $100 million to keep Oregonians housed and stabilize the rental market as the pandemic continues into 2021.

Kotek’s push for a special session came as the state’s latest revenue forecast was released Wednesday.

It was essentially unchanged from the September estimate by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, showing lawmakers would likely have $124 million more in tax revenue for this two-year budget period, compared with the forecast three months ago.

Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday she is committed to exploring additional state-level solutions to assist Oregonians and Oregon’s businesses, including the hospitality industry, small businesses, and women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Tribal-owned and operated businesses.

“We need to utilize some portion of the state’s reserves as soon as possible to help struggling Oregonians and small businesses through the winter months,” Kotek said.


News releases:

House Speaker Tina Kotek calls for December

special session following latest revenue forecast

“The COVID-19 pandemic is raging like never before in Oregon. Our economic recovery is fully dependent on getting this virus under control. As the state’s budget situation has stabilized and since Congress is unlikely to pass another relief package this year, I urge the Governor to declare a catastrophic disaster so the legislature can convene a remote special session in December.

“We need to utilize some portion of the state’s reserves as soon as possible to help struggling Oregonians and small businesses through the winter months. I am particularly interested in seeing the state spend $100 million to keep Oregonians housed and stabilize the rental market as the pandemic continues into 2021.”


Governor Kate Brown Statement on November Revenue Forecast

 (Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today issued the following statement about the state’s November revenue forecast:

"Today’s forecast projects relatively stable state revenues," said Governor Brown. "While this provides some sense of relief in uncertain times, we know that the sacrifices Oregon's businesses are making right now to prevent the rapid community spread of COVID-19 will not be reflected until the next revenue forecast is released in January. 

"We continue to face uncertainty about Oregon's economy moving forward. What is abundantly clear, however, is that our state—like so many others across the country—needs another round of federal stimulus money. This is a worldwide public health crisis, and it demands a coordinated, national response. And we simply cannot wait until Congress convenes in January. 

"Our workers who are facing unemployment and the discontinuation of federal benefits programs at the end of the year—and employers who have had to close businesses for the betterment of public health—need help. And they need it right now.

"I am calling on Congress to put aside their partisan differences and deliver on a coronavirus relief package, including another round of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and an extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. There is no time to waste. We urgently need congressional action to provide direct help to local governments, businesses, and families so that we can all continue to provide critical services to Oregonians during this crisis. 

"In addition, this year's wildfires have burned over 4,000 homes and structures in communities across Oregon. The state faces significant costs as we work to remove debris and rebuild wildfire-impacted communities. We cannot recover from these fires alone—we will need substantial federal support.

"I remain committed to exploring additional state-level solutions to assist Oregonians and Oregon's businesses, especially those that have been hard hit by the pandemic, including the hospitality industry, small businesses, and women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Tribal-owned and operated businesses.

"I also remain committed to making prudent financial decisions and to position our state to manage unforeseen economic challenges that may come our way."


Statement on the December Economic and Revenue Forecast from House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner
SALEM, Ore. – Oregon House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) issued the following statement on the release of the December Economic and Revenue Forecast:

“We are reminded today how tenuous our state’s recovery is as COVID-19 cases surge in every corner of Oregon. While there are positive signs in here, as we have heard time and again from our state’s economists, it is critical for our economic recovery that we get this pandemic under control. I applaud Gov. Brown for taking decisive action to keep Oregonians safe and healthy. 

“I’ve been dismayed at Republicans across the state calling for individuals to defy public health protocols. We all want to be able to go about our lives as they were before the pandemic, but that cannot happen if individuals refuse to do their part to slow the spread of this virus. We desperately need our Republican colleagues to join us and start taking this pandemic seriously. This isn’t about politics – it’s about peoples’ lives and livelihoods. As we have seen in places like Iowa and North Dakota, prematurely reopening the state would be wildly irresponsible and have deadly consequences.

“As we have from the start of this tumultuous year, Oregon House Democrats remain committed to standing up for every Oregonian, prioritizing funding for critical programs and services people are counting on, ensuring historically marginalized communities in this state are not yet again sidelined in the next economic recovery, and helping all those affected by wildfires and the COVID-19 crisis recover.”

House Republican Leader Statement on December Economic and Revenue Forecast

Salem, ORE. – Today, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released the following statement:

“Today’s forecast shows that our state economy is stable, but this is not a reflection of reality for most Oregonians who have been impacted by these shutdowns. The most recent “freeze” will hurt Oregonians and business owners, and make an already tenuous recovery even harder for families.

"fNow more than ever, we must protect jobs, support business growth, manage our reserves and control spending to ensure a long-term recovery for all of Oregon.”


Manufacturers renew call for tax relief amid ongoing coronavirus recession

Protecting jobs and key industries should be lawmakers’ top priority in 2021

Salem, Ore. - Following the release of the state economists’ economic and revenue forecast this morning, Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce (OMC) renewed its call for Governor Brown and state lawmakers to consider temporary tax relief measures amid the ongoing coronavirus-caused recession. OMC specifically urged state leaders to consider policy options that would protect manufacturing, one of the hardest hit industries since the outset of the pandemic, from further and potentially permanent losses.

“As we saw from today’s economic revenue forecast, manufacturing has been hammered by the coronavirus recession. Manufacturing losses in Oregon are particularly pronounced when compared to the U.S. average,” said Shaun Jillions, OMC’s Executive Director. “The data is clear, without bold action from our state leaders, manufacturers will close their doors and the industry as a whole may never recover. The focus of the 2021 legislative session must be on protecting the industries that form the bedrock of our state’s economy, including manufacturing, as well as restoring lost jobs and lost wages for Oregonians.”

OMC and other employer groups previously called on Governor Brown and lawmakers to consider a variety of actions meant to support employers through the pandemic, including a temporary suspension of the state’s Corporate Activity Tax (CAT), early in the pandemic. Though state leaders have so far declined to support any of those concepts, OMC renewed that call today in advance of the 2021 legislative session.

Coronavirus / Government-politics / Oregon-Northwest / Top Stories

The Associated Press

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