Despite ‘stable’ economic forecast, Oregon leaders say future uncertain


FILE: Oregon Governor Kate Brown announces new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 amid record-setting spike. November 13, 2020 (KOIN).

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN/AP) — Oregon’s latest economic forecast has been released, and while it’s reported as stable, officials project it will take until mid-2023 for it to be healthy again and lawmakers say there is too much uncertainty for residents.

The economic forecast was released on Wednesday, the same day a two-week “freeze” went into effect across Oregon as health officials warn about a surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.

In a statement, Gov. Kate Brown said the impact of the partial lockdown will not be forecasted until new economic numbers are released in January 2021, and called for Congress to pass another stimulus bill.

“We continue to face uncertainty about Oregon’s economy moving forward. What is abundantly clear, however, is that our state — like so many others across the country — needs another round of federal stimulus money,” she said. “This is a worldwide public health crisis, and it demands a coordinated, national response. And we simply cannot wait until Congress convenes in January.”

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, who is slated to speak on the economic forecast on Wednesday afternoon, released a statement earlier in the day.

“Today’s forecast is up. The state budget is stable. We are keeping our heads above water. This year has brought new needs and new challenges. A lot is uncertain… too many are hurting. Together, we must keep moving forward.”

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan said the forecast, while stable, isn’t a “reflection of reality.”

“The most recent ‘freeze’ will hurt Oregonians and business owners, and make an already tenuous recovery even harder for families,” she said in a statement. “Now more than ever we must protect jobs, support business growth, manage our reserves and control spending to ensure a long-term recovery for all of Oregon.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Tina Kotek is calling for a special session in order for lawmakers to allocate additional funds that would help Oregonians struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kotek on Wednesday said she is particularly interested in seeing the state spend $100 million to keep Oregonians housed and stabilize the rental market as the pandemic continues into 2021.

Kotek’s push for a special session came as the state’s latest revenue forecast was released Wednesday. It was essentially unchanged from the September estimate by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, showing lawmakers would likely have $124 million more in tax revenue for this two-year budget period compared with the forecast three months ago.

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