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OREGON

Oregon

State Recovery Act Website: http://www.oregon.gov/recovery

Oregon's state Recovery Act website scored 67 out of 100 possible points (ranking 9th) on Good Jobs First's updated 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus (Again). The state earned points for breaking down stimulus allocations into broad and narrow categories, and for using an interactive map to show county by county breakdowns of spending overall and by program, and significant information on individual contract and grant projects.

For detailed scoring information, see the Oregon appendix of Show Us the Stimulus (Again).

Coordination & Oversight

Oversight of major recovery initiatives will be done in two steps. First, state agencies will work with the governor's office on potential projects and competitive federal grant opportunities. The governor's office may then advance a proposal to the Oregon Way Advisory Group for additional advice and assistance. Oregon Way criteria are job creation, local sourcing, workforce development, energy impact, public/private integration, and applied innovation. Gov. Ted Kulongoski believes that these criteria will make the state's proposals more competitive for federal funding. The Oregon Way Advisory Group includes residents from the public and private sector, with an emphasis on green business and sustainability. The group's work process is available here.

Another stimulus initiative is Go Oregon! It involves the issuance of $175 million in bonds to fund maintenance and construction projects at public facilities owned by both state and local governments throughout Oregon.

Oregon's stimulus "czar" is Brian Shipley, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Governor's Office.  Prior to this position, Shipley was the Legislative Director for the governor and Director of Legislation for Senate President Peter Courtney.

Policy Debates

With Oregon's jobless rate among the highest in the country, unemployment insurance modernization legislation passed easily in April. The National Employment Law Project reports that Oregon enacted new legislation to adopt the alternative base period, as well as adopting legislative fixes to provide training to unemployed workers and award benefits to workers who leave their job for compelling family reasons such as domestic violence.

State school funding is in dire straits because it's 80 percent-funded with income tax revenue.  Federal stimulus funds provided $400 million in the last four months of the 2008-09 fiscal year to help balance the state's budget in the two-year budget cycle ending June 30, 2009. Gov. Kulongoski vetoed the $6 billion education budget passed by the legislature for 2010-11, arguing it used too much money from the state's rainy day fund. Days later the legislature easily overrode this veto with a two-thirds vote. The Governor and the legislature agreed on a $6 billion education budget for the biennium, but the Governor would rather have waited until the next legislative session when more is known about state revenues before dipping into reserve funds. Further controversy has developed around Obama's competitive $4 billion "Race to the Top Fund" for education. These funds are being used as an incentive to encourage state lawmakers to lift restrictions on charter schools, including the number of allowed and the rules governing who can enroll. However, the Governor recently signed a bill supported by the Oregon Education Association which limits online charter schools.

Oregon received $2.4 billion in federal grants for research and production of new advanced electric car batteries.

Last updated on: 18 March, 2010

Quick Facts

Population:
3,790,060

Median Household Income:
$48,730

Unemployment Rate:
12.2%

Poverty Rate:
12.9%

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$2.5 billion

Watchdog Groups

Oregon Center for Public Policy

OSPIRG (Oregon State Public Interest Research Group)

Resources

The Oregon Center for Public Policy has issued several ARRA-related documents such as:

Five Effective Economic Recovery Tools; online here.

How Much Does Oregon Stand to Gain from the House Economic Stimulus Package?;  online here.

Economic Recovery Package Offers Fiscal Help to Oregon; online here.

New Tax Credit Fully Kicks in for 1.3 Million Oregonians; online here.

Oregon Should Follow the Feds in Not Taxing Some Unemployment Benefits; online here.

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