SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Earlier this week, Oregon state House Democrats passed a bill that would give a one-time $600 payment to low-income households with people who worked during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the bill passed the House with a 42-16 vote, it also passed the Senate this afternoon on a vote of 23-2.
“Low-wage workers are a critical part of our economy and are also the most vulnerable to the rising
costs of everyday necessities,” said Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Business, who carried the bill on the Senate floor. “Cash payments make a huge difference in the lives of individuals and working families. They can help pay a utility bill, buy necessary medicine or essentials like diapers and groceries. Cash payments also ease stress, allowing families some support to manage the obstacles they face in their daily lives. House Bill 4157 is an opportunity to show support to our low-wage workers as they show up to do the jobs upon which our economy depends.”
The payment aims to help address the rising cost of living and help working families’ necessities such as rent, groceries, prescriptions and childcare.
“Right now many Oregonians, myself included, have been struggling to get by as the cost of living has skyrocketed,” state Rep. Andrea Valderrama (D-Portland), the chief sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “These payments can make a huge difference for low-income individuals and working families: they can help pay a utility bill, buy necessary medicine, or essentials like diapers and groceries.”
Those who qualified for and claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit on their 2020 personal income tax returns or file an amended 2020 tax return by April 15, will be eligible to receive the payments. According to the Department of Revenue (DOR), an estimated 250,000 Oregonians will qualify.
“We know that the wealth gap has only continued to widen since the pandemic,” state Rep. Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn) said in a statement. “This means rising costs disproportionately impact our lowest wage workers. With this legislation we’re reaching the working families and individuals whose hard work is essential and makes up the backbone of our economy.”
Eligible Oregonians will not be required to go through an application process and can expect checks or a direct deposit as soon as June.
Payments will be distributed through the DOR and funding will come from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund program, a part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The bill will now go to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature.