As we await the federal government to decide on the next round of COVID-19 relief, the Oregon Legislature will convene for a special session on Monday, August 10th to address a projected shortfall in the current budget.
Current Revenue Shortfall: $2,698M
Ending Fund Balance: $1,115M
Current Budget Gap: $1,583M
Cuts to agency budgets should be less than we feared a few months ago when the Governor announced her allotment cuts thanks to the advocacy efforts of SEIU 503 members since the revenue forecast was released in May. The Legislature is taking a more targeted approach and is able to plug holes in the budget through accounting practices like using money originally allocated for positions that remain vacant and using limited reserves. We will continue to work with lawmakers and agencies to find other options to avoid any harm to members and those we serve. The bad news is that we are not out of the woods yet.
Oregon has projected a $4.4 billion shortfall in the next budget (2021-23) that will be addressed when the Legislature meets next year. In the absence of federal relief funding, our state will not be able to pass a balanced budget without significant cuts to services, additional revenue, or both. The most important thing we can do right now to avoid those tough decisions is to help secure federal aid.
SEIU members are working in coalition to center Oregon’s public health and economic response on the people most harmed by this pandemic. We’ve joined Fight for Our Future, a growing coalition that includes organizations serving children and families, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) organizations, immigrants, women, older adults and seniors, and low-wage workers who have borne the brunt of the current public health and economic crises. Fight for Our Future members include SEIU, Coalition of Communities of Color, Fair Shot for All, Forward Together Action, Oregon AFSCME, Oregon Education Association, and Our Oregon.
The Great Recession taught us that cuts to public services and the people who provide them delays recovery and harms people of color. Oregon cannot make the same mistake again. Let us work together to help Oregon reimagine what is possible and recover and rebuild towards a better future for our children, our families, and our communities.