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'Unbelievable': Oregon lawmakers marvel at state's revenue forecast

For one shining moment on Wednesday, Democratic and Republican state lawmakers were in agreement — the state's financial outlook is almost shockingly strong, according to the latest economists' report.

Posted: May 19, 2021 5:21 PM

SALEM, Ore. — For one shining moment on Wednesday, Democratic and Republican state lawmakers were in agreement — the state's financial outlook is almost shockingly strong, according to the latest economists' report.

The May Economic and Revenue Forecast was delivered to members of two Senate and House committees on Tuesday, showing near-term economic growth that belied the preceding year of pandemic-related repression — thanks, in no small part, to gobs of federal aid funding.

“This is unbelievable. In all my years at the Oregon Legislature, I have never seen a forecast like this," said Senate President Peter Courtney. "Oregon's economy is clearly one of the most stable in the country. We have what we need to deal with the damage caused by the great fire and the pandemic. If we join our hands and arms, we can really do something about the pain and suffering of Oregonians right now. If we don't, we have no one to blame but ourselves.”

Oregon's economists reported that household incomes are higher than before the pandemic despite losses in the labor market, and employment is expected to rebound by late 2022. Tax revenue is more uncertain, due to the late deadline this year, but the report noted that the tax season "is turning out to be a healthy one," with fewer refunds due to tax payers than last year.

While amazement appeared universal, Democratic and Republican lawmakers differed somewhat in their priorities for how the state's revenue would be best employed.

“Money is coming out of our ears. This one-time dump of federal money needs to be used responsibly. We must first ensure taxpayers get their full Kicker. That money belongs to them, and there is no justification to take it from them,” said Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod.

Sen. Girod estimated that the economic outlook could result in one of the largest kicker refunds in state history, at roughly $1.4 billion — enough, he said, to give every Oregonian $330.

Beyond the kicker, Senate Republicans proposed to "fully fund and fully reopen" Oregon schools, invest in workforce development and technical education programs at community colleges, and assist communities devastated by wildfires.

Governor Kate Brown said that the forecast would allow Oregon to fund agency base budgets, invest in recommendations from the Racial Justice Council, move forward with a $9.4 billion school budget, and ensure that no one is kicked off the Oregon Health Plan. Brown and a number of leading Democrats mentioned supporting racial equity by ensuring that marginalized communities hit hard by COVID-19 are not left behind.

"While Oregon’s economy is experiencing its strongest growth in decades, we must remember that too many Oregonians are struggling to pay rent or put food on the table," said House Speaker Tina Kotek. "The legislature must seize this opportunity to deliver bold action and immediate relief for Oregon families. This forecast means we can make critical investments to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, advance racial equity, and address our housing and behavioral health needs."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 392197

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60432839
Washington42082398
Marion39986507
Clackamas32861382
Lane30179358
Jackson24956361
Deschutes23639185
Umatilla15135182
Linn14704179
Douglas13438292
Josephine10201246
Yamhill9787143
Klamath9072147
Polk8248102
Benton611138
Malheur592790
Coos5693107
Columbia433356
Jefferson420866
Lincoln363852
Union339255
Crook336356
Wasco317046
Clatsop262735
Baker220833
Tillamook217045
Hood River214537
Morrow197825
Curry192439
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105616
Wallowa76013
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5087907

Reported Deaths: 74561
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152858627184
San Diego4074794340
Riverside3880835358
San Bernardino3748555967
Orange3346265736
Sacramento1684922447
Kern1578751804
Fresno1568972259
Santa Clara1522681929
Alameda1252361507
San Joaquin1076041834
Ventura1040841191
Contra Costa1038691046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare861371099
San Francisco56931672
San Mateo56354629
Monterey52521626
Solano47693358
Santa Barbara47345553
Merced45086668
Sonoma43207412
Placer42204470
Imperial38516773
Kings35221362
San Luis Obispo31511360
Madera26233311
Shasta26113458
Butte25476318
Santa Cruz22268224
Yolo21590260
Marin18495249
El Dorado18325166
Sutter14577186
Napa13424105
Yuba1076389
Tehama10282130
Humboldt10183119
Nevada10029105
Mendocino857799
Lassen797656
San Benito782979
Tuolumne774691
Lake7046110
Amador578366
Siskiyou475855
Glenn457436
Calaveras442288
Del Norte376942
Colusa325921
Inyo256746
Plumas19397
Mono18924
Mariposa160718
Trinity99817
Modoc7725
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Unassigned810
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