By ANDREW SELSKY
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon faces an 11% drop in revenue from the previous biennium as the coronavirus pandemic triggered a shutdown order and a consequent drop in tax payments, state economists reported Wednesday.
General Fund and other major revenues have been reduced relative to the March forecast by $2.7 billion in the current biennium and $4.4 billion in the 2021-23 budget period, state economist Josh Lehner said.
He said the current recession is the deepest on record in Oregon with data going back to 1939 but is expected to be shorter in duration than the Great Recession.
“The economy should return to health by mid-decade,” Lehner said.
Gov. Kate Brown said “we have tough choices ahead.”
“We will need to tighten our belts. I am working with legislative leaders to preserve critical state services, find efficiencies, and prepare for potential budget cuts,” the Democratic governor said.
Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod blamed Brown for the economic fallout.
“Governor Brown’s insistence to keep Oregon’s economy shutdown despite flattening the curve weeks ago, has cost Oregon billions of dollars of revenue, impacting generations to come,” Girod said. “This revenue loss could have been mitigated if the Governor had been a leader and opened our state weeks ago.”
State medical officers said the shutdown orders, which were relaxed in a first phase for almost half of the state’s population last week, were needed to prevent the highly contagious coronavirus from spreading and claiming more lives. The known death toll is currently about 140 in a state of 4.2 million.
Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, said it is important to prioritize investments in education, the health and safety of Oregonians and the resources and programs necessary to help pull the state out of this public health and economic crisis.
“There are extensive challenges ahead as we begin down the lengthy road to recovery,” Burdick said.
Brown said the state needs more help from the federal government, through Congress and President Donald Trump, to help bridge the budget gap
“Now it’s time for Congress and the president to step up and provide once-in-a-century support for important state services, including schools, health care, and public safety,” the Democratic governor said.
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