Today, a broad coalition of business associations and chambers of commerce from around Oregon submitted a joint letter to Gov. Kate Brown and legislative leadership detailing recommendations for how to spend the nearly $6 billion that is coming to the state now that the American Rescue Plan Act has been signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The $6 billion in federal aid expected by state and local governments in Oregon in just a few weeks represents an unprecedented transfusion of cash that could prove transformational – if it is invested wisely. The coalition urged state leaders to consider the investments in three parts: 1) Near-term for programs that assist individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits still struggling financially; 2) Longer-term for substantial investments in carefully selected projects that will bolster our economic base and yield returns to Oregonians for decades to come, and 3) A contingency set-aside for unforeseen challenges in the next few years.
We urged the governor and legislative leadership to consider these principles as a guide:
- Recognize that this is one-time money. Resist creating new programs that may require new sources of funding for recurring support over the long-term.
- Seek partnerships to leverage other revenue. In addition to the $2.6 billion heading to state coffers, local governments, including school districts, are receiving substantial funds as well. Working with these other governments on shared priorities will enable all of the federal money to go further.
- Take time to plan and consider. The urge to spend will be significant and there are some clear near-term opportunities. However, it is essential to use the time now to investigate and plan for what the best opportunities are for the long-term future of Oregon and how they should be approached.