Oregon Legislative Updates

Redistricting Takes Center Stage

The Oregon Legislature is on a fast track to finalize a redistricting bill by September 27th. In early August, eleven state lawmakers begin the process to draw our state’s new political districts in a very short timeline that will be used beginning with the 2022 election.

The six Democrats and five Republicans on the House and Senate redistricting committees are reviewing U.S. Census data that outline population and demographic changes since the last map-making 10 years ago. A special session of the Oregon Legislature is set for September 20th and their job is to draw 60 House Districts, 30 Senate Districts and Six Congressional Districts, adding one more to Oregon with the addition of over 700,000 residents.

If successful, the lawmakers will create the maps, win approval in the House and Senate, and then get Governor Kate Brown to sign off on the plan. That’s happened once in the past 110 years, in 2011. The rest of the time, the Legislature couldn’t agree, the governor would reject the lawmakers’ plans, or court challenges would lead to revisions.

With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the Oregon Redistricting Committee moved previously scheduled in-person public hearings across the state to a completely virtual venue. Despite this change, many of the previous dates (Sept. 8-13) will remain the same. Please see the link to the Oregon redistricting page for more information on watching the hearings or testifying!

If the Legislature does not agree on a plan, the job goes to the Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. She has opened an application process for a “People’s Commission.” If you are interested, you can apply here: https://sos.oregon.gov/Pages/redistricting.aspx.

September Revenue Forecast Shows Healthy Oregon Economy

This week the September revenue forecast was presented to the Oregon House and Senate Revenue Committees. The results show that Oregon taxpayers will get a record $1.9 billion off their personal income taxes in 2022 as a result of tax collections exceeding projections in 2019.

For the average taxpayer with household income of $67,500, the savings will amount to $850, according to rough estimates that state economists furnished to lawmakers Wednesday during a presentation of the state’s quarterly economic and revenue forecast.

“Today’s revenue forecast is another sign that Oregon’s economy is healthy, strong, and on the path for a rapid recovery,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. “This is welcome news at a time that Oregonians continue to face immense challenges: from wildfire recovery to extreme drought to our worst surge of cases and hospitalizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Here are some highlights of the revenue presentation:

  • Oregon Firms advertising record job openings and average wages are up 10%;
  • Labor supply should improve as federal aid ends and the pandemic wanes, however, labor market will remain tight;
  • Oregon’s General Fund has roughly doubled over the past 5 budget cycles (10 yrs);
  • Kicker credits of $1.9 billion will be issued in 2021-23 and beyond, Total kicker $1.9 billion;
  • Economic impact of increased consumer spending from kicker is affected by higher- income households having higher savings rates, and lower marginal propensity to consume;
  • Going forward, the revenue outlook is stable, with modest upward revisions to future budgets in the September forecast;
  • After the strong tax season, the ending balance for 2019-21 increased by $699 million
  • In addition to General Fund resources, Lottery and CAT revenues have come in larger than expected

You can review the presentation here.

Submitted by: Pam Leavitt

Posted in Advocacy on the Move, Oregon Advocacy.