Oregon’s current budget will be nearly untouched by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and future budgets won’t be as hampered as initially thought, state economists announced Wednesday.
Those conclusions, which state economist Mark McMullen told lawmakers were “somewhat shocking,” turn on their head assumptions about how deeply Oregon has been harmed by record job losses brought on by the coronavirus. But while the impacts of the COVID shutdown are slower and weaker than expected, economists warn that they will not insulate the state from necessary cuts in the future.
“How can it be that [the pandemic is] not a state revenue event?” McMullen told lawmakers. “Obviously it will be … but it sure looks like it’s not going to happen in the current biennium — at least not to a significant extent.”
McMullen now predicts that Oregon will bring in $2 billion more in the current budget than he was anticipating in June. Combined with cost-saving actions lawmakers took in an August special session and recent vetoes by Gov. Kate Brown, that could leave Oregon with $1.7 billion more than it currently plans to spend this budget. …