The Oregon Capitol building in Salem. Photo: Chas Hundley
Oregon Governor Kate Brown released a 10-point economic recovery plan for the state on Tuesday, March 23, outlining her administration’s recovery goals in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 wildfires.
A news release issued by the governor’s office says Brown’s Council of Economic Advisers and Racial Justice Council helped develop the plan, which provides a framework for recovery related to the coronavirus and the 2020 wildfires with a specific focus on supporting black, indigenous, and people of color.
Oregon state and local governments are set to receive about $6.4 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021.
Gov. Brown also outlined in a .pdf-file web post her investment criteria and principles for distributing ARP funds.
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“Thanks in part to the passage of the American Rescue Plan, Oregon’s outlook for a rapid economic recovery is strong, if we act quickly to get relief to Oregonians,” Gov. Brown said. “We have the opportunity now to lift up Oregon families and businesses by immediately investing state and federal resources to help them recover from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Gov. Brown said Oregon must create a more just and equitable state by helping communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and wildfires. By rooting recovery efforts in equity, Oregon can support economic growth for the state’s Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Tribal communities, she said.
Here is Gov. Brown’s 10-point plan for rapid economic recovery:
— Invest in Oregon’s hardest-hit workers, or those currently unemployed or underemployed.
— Reinvest in “innovative” housing.
— Support resilient rural communities.
— Support those in Oregon’s workforce that remain employed but are struggling hard.
— Create opportunities for workforce development throughout the state.
— Get small businesses back on their feet.
— Invest in Oregon’s infrastructure.
— Oregonians invest back into Oregon.
— Safely re-open the state’s economy.
— Attract and nurture innovative manufacturing.
Joth Ricci, chief executive officer and president of Dutch Bros. Coffee and chair of the Oregon Business Plan Steering Committee, said Oregon businesses have worked throughout the pandemic to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. He said many are pleased with the direction Gov. Brown is taking with her plan to immediately begin investing state and federal resources “towards shared prosperity and robust recovery.”
“Oregon businesses need both short-term relief and long-term investments like those in the governor’s plan to help get our state back on its feet and thriving,” Ricci said.
For those who follow Oregon politics, many will recall the Oregon Legislature passed a bill in 2017 that created $5.3 billion in transportation revenue through new taxes and fees. The revenue is used to fund highway and bridge construction and general highway improvements and repairs throughout the state. It also provides funding for new public transit projects.
Critics of the bill at the time it was being decided in the Oregon Senate included many city managers, mayors, and city councilors from smaller, and from rural, Oregon towns. They argued that their cities and outlying communities were not awarded nearly enough of the $5.3 billion transportation package to address the many long-overdue and neglected maintenance and repairs needed to the weathered and pot-holed state and county roads that run through their small municipalities.
Both state and county governments, respectively, are responsible for maintaining their highways, even when a state highway is Main Street in a given town, and there are a plethora of examples of such streets in every nook and cranny of Oregon.
Most of the $5.3 billion of that transportation package went to projects in the Portland metro region — Multnomah County, Clackamas County, and much of Washington County.
Gov. Brown’s office did not return calls requesting comment, and a University of Oregon economics expert also was not available for comment. An email and voice mail sent to the League of Oregon Cities was not returned by the end of the day.