SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Gov. Kate Brown will call lawmakers back to the Capitol beginning Aug. 10 to try to fill a billion-dollar budget hole due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Business closures have caused tax revenues to plunge and legislators need to deal with a more than $1 billion budget deficit for the current two-year spending plan.
Here’s more from the Governor:
(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown will convene a Special Session of the Oregon Legislature at 8:00 a.m. Monday, August 10, 2020 to rebalance the state budget by addressing the state revenue shortfall created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor issued the following statement today:
“This crisis has impacted all of us—Oregon families, businesses, non-profits, and local governments have all had to cut costs. The State of Oregon has been tightening its belt as well. With a nearly $1 billion budget deficit in the current biennium, there is more work to do.
“These decisions will not be easy. Oregon has been smart with our reserves and saved for a rainy day, preparing us to weather this economic storm. But if we use too much of our savings now, then we’ll be stuck with an even bigger budget gap for the next biennium. Putting off tough decisions this summer will only leave us with impossible choices next January.
“Unlike the federal government, Oregon must balance our state budget. State and local governments have been left reeling from the economic downturn. For months, we have waited for Congress to take action, and it is still my hope that they will include aid for states and local governments in the coronavirus relief package currently being negotiated.
“We need to preserve critical services like health care, education, and senior services during this pandemic. And, we must do more to address the disparities in state support for Oregon’s underserved communities, particularly our Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and other communities of color. I would like to thank legislators for beginning this work already, and I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and crafting an updated budget that serves all Oregonians.”
In her proclamation calling the special session, the Governor also noted her support for urgent legislation that builds on matters considered in the first special session, including additional police accountability reforms.
Governor Brown has already proposed $150 million in General Fund savings for the biennium. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, state agencies have worked to find efficiencies by reducing non-critical spending, delaying new programs, halting non-essential travel, and leaving positions unfilled. Governor Brown is convening the special session under her authority pursuant to Article V, section 12, of the Oregon Constitution.