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2021 Legislative Session Update – May 20, 2021

Some significant issues that need to be brought to your attention today.
 
1. The State Revenue Forecast was jaw-droppingly positive for the state. There was literally no evidence that the state even went through a pandemic or economic shutdown. Yesterday’s forecast is the official forecast on which final budgeting decisions are made. 

  • General Fund revenue for the current biennium (ending June 30th) is $1.087 billion higher than projected in March. This huge influx of revenue will likely transfer over to the upcoming 2021-23 biennium (there is no way this money can be realistically spent between now and June 30th). 
  • In addition to the new influx of $1.087 billion in the current biennium, the state economists are also projecting an additional $1.014 billion of additional tax revenue for the 2021-23 biennium. 
  • Lottery projections for 2021-23 showed an increase of $106 million in anticipated lottery revenue.
  • The “kicker” rebate to personal taxpayers is now triggered. As it stands now, over $1.4 billion will be rebated back to taxpayers on their tax filings next year if the current figure holds.

 All told, budget writers now have an additional $2.2 billion in additional General Fund and Lottery revenues to spend for 2021-23. This is on top of Federal ARPA monies – totaling over $6 billion – that flowed into Oregon state and local governments through the American Rescue Plan Act.
 
The concern now turns to sustainability. Legislators will have to be cautious not to overspend and create artificially inflated budgets that cannot be sustained without further tax increases.
 
2. We now know that the Capitol will not be opened at all this session, or even for the special session(s) scheduled for late summer. We know – at the very least – that a special session will occur in September to deal with re-districting. The virtual sessions will continue into the foreseeable future. 

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