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Affordable housing, tax cuts among Oregon legislative priorities

KTVZ file

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As Oregon lawmakers return to the Capitol on Tuesday for the 2022 legislative session, their priorities include affordable housing, bolstering the state’s workforce, a $500 million cushion for the next biennium, tax cuts and limiting the emergency power of the governor.

But how much money legislators are envisioning spending has yet to be determined, as lawmakers await an updated revenue and economic forecast for Oregon that will be presented Feb. 9.

During the last revenue forecast, in November, state economists predicted general fund and lottery revenues would come in $1.5 billion higher than they expected when lawmakers finalized the current, two-year $27 billion budget.

“There’s obviously a revenue forecast that’s going to come up here shortly that will change what the numbers are, you know, plus or minus,” said Democratic Rep. Dan Rayfield, the House Speaker designate. “In terms of what we want to spend is also a derivative of how much we want to maintain and our ending fund balance.”

However, majority Democrats and Gov. Kate Brown have suggested approving $1 billion to $2 billion in spending during the five-week session.

During the annual Associated Press Legislative Preview, Brown said she wants lawmakers to set aside a significant amount of money – at least $500 million – to save for the next biennium. The Democrat said it “is very likely that we’re going to see a challenging budget cycle” if the state revenues weaken. Last year, the governor and legislative leaders discussed saving as much as $1 billion to hedge against a downturn in the next budget cycle.

Among other priorities, one of the largest proposed spending packages is $400 million for affordable housing, homelessness prevention and rental assistance.

“We know too many Oregonians who are struggling to make rent or buy a home,” House Majority Leader Julie Fahey said. “This session we will pass additional investments and policies to address housing and homelessness.”

Brown is also proposing $200 million for a workforce development plan, which aims to prioritize key populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and existing disparities — including Oregonians of color, women, low-income individuals, rural communities, veterans and those who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.

The plan would include $95 million to solve problems that keep people out of the workforce, such as covering the cost of tuition and fees for school and training programs, transportation, housing, food and child care.

“The goal is to give Oregonians the tools, the resources and , frankly, create career pathways that are sustainable,” Brown said.

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Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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The Associated Press


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