Oregon state budget framework says there is enough to keep essential programs afloat
The Joint Committee on Ways and Means released their 2021-2023 budget framework last Wednesday, which includes recent federal aid through the American Rescue Plan. With federal help of around $2.6 billion, the co-chairs plan to continue funding the Oregon Health Plan without cuts. Total resources for the proposed budget are around $28 billion.
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), legislative budget writers say that they can fund all of the state’s priorities while still having funds leftover. Representative Dan Rayfield, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, said in a statement:
“The federal aid in the American Rescue Plan is a game-changer. This support is critical to our recovery and will help the state continue vital programs and services for Oregonians who have been disproportionately impacted by the crises of the past year.”
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The co-chairs of Ways and Means highlight their values to respond to vulnerable communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the destructive wildfires within the state.
Other priorities include expanding health insurance to vulnerable Oregonians, supporting the State School Fund to aid students and teachers as they return to in-person and hybrid learning and providing support for treatment services outlined by Measure 110. Human services spending is targeting at $8 billion and education at $9.1 billion.
The remaining funds are intended to be reserved for the 2023-2025 biennium to stabilize future programs created by the funds from the American Rescue Plan. Sen. Betsy Johnson, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, said in a statement:
“Our framework addresses unprecedented challenges as we await further federal guidance with respect to the American Rescue Plan money designated for Oregon. Our document is sufficiently flexible to respond during budget negotiations. However, it also prudently anticipates potential challenges for the 2023-2025 budget.”
According to OPB, budget analysts were expecting to make large cuts due to the hit that COVID-19 took on the state. However, these federal funds provide more support than previously expected, allowing legislators to continue to support much needed programs.
The full budget framework can be viewed here