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Big Things are Starting to Happen in Salem….

The Oregon Legislature is on track to approve major investments in affordable housing, homelessness services, public schools, community safety, climate resilience, and rebuilding infrastructure that will spur economic activity across the state, according to a release from Oregon House Speaker Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis).

Rayfield said the U.S. and Oregon are experiencing a historic economic recovery, leading to strong revenues in the 2022 legislative session. Meanwhile, Oregonians are grappling with price increases that are hitting family budgets and creating anxiety about the future.

“We are seizing this opportunity to send direct relief to Oregonians and deliver results for working families,” Rayfield said.

The following are the highlights from the state budget following a meeting of the budget-writing legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee Monday night, Feb. 28.

• A $400 million package to tackle housing and homelessness, including $165 million for homelessness services, $215 million to build and preserve affordable housing and $20 million to improve access to homeownership.

• A $300 million education package to address the staffing crisis in Oregon’s schools, create summer learning opportunities, support wild-fire impacted school districts, and address education disparities by funding the Pacific Islander Student Success Plan and adding $5 million to the African American/Black Student Success Plan.

• Smart investments in community safety, including $15 million to support Community-Based Organizations working to prevent violence, $5 million to expand hospital-based community violence prevention programs, $13 million to help local communities around the state clean up trash and provide sanitation services, $14 million to support services for crime victims, and $10 million for the Oregon Domestic & Sexual Violence Services Fund.

• A $200 million investment in workforce development will help ensure workers have access to the skills and training they will need to succeed, including $200 million for Future Ready Oregon (Senate Bill 1545).

• A nearly $300 million cost of living relief package, including direct, one-time relief payments of $600 that will help more than 240,000 low-wage workers cover their essential needs (House Bill 4157), $100 million to address the shortage of affordable childcare across the state (House Bill 4005), and increased outreach to help working families access tax relief (House Bill 4117).

• Over $300 million for healthcare needs, including a plan to protect health coverage for low-income Oregonians (House Bill 4035), $150 million to support behavioral health workers and providers (House Bill 4004), $45 million to address the crisis in Oregon’s health care workforce at OHSU, and new support for Oregon nurses who are experiencing burnout from the extreme stress of the pandemic (House Bill 4003).

• A $100 million climate resilience budget aims to tackle drought, extreme weather, and infrastructure needs.

• Over $100 million to help rebuild critical infrastructure in rural Oregon, which will support local economies and create jobs across the state.

Following this session’s appropriations, Oregon will still maintain more than $2.7 billion in reserve. That includes projected balances of $760 million in General Funds, $1.3 billion in the Rainy Day Fund, and nearly $700 million in the Education Stability Fund.

“After two years of brutal hardships – from the pandemic, to wildfires, to economic uncertainty – I genuinely believe these investments will help people in every corner of Oregon,” Oregon House’s chief budget writer Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D-N/NE Portland) said. “It was hard to say ‘no’ to many additional, worthy investments we could have made. But we also prioritized maintaining strong reserve funds so that Oregon is well-positioned to handle any unforeseen crises or an economic downturn.”

The six end-of-session budget bills containing these investments will now advance to final floor votes:

• SB 5701: Bond Authorization

• SB 5702: Capital Construction

• SB 5703: Lottery and CFA Allocation

• HB 5201: Fee Ratification

• HB 5202: Budget Reconciliation

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