Oregon state revenues are stable with low inflation and unemployment in the economy, according to the December revenue forecast released Wednesday by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.
The forecast helps state lawmakers as they prepare for the 2024 session, which starts in February, and plan legislation that may need additional funding to address issues like the drug addiction crisis, homelessness or child care.
State House Minority Leader Jeff Helfrich of Hood River said state officials need to address Oregon’s stagnating population and reverse the trend of people leaving the state because of high crime and drugs while Gov. Tina Kotek and Democratic legislative leaders said the forecast is encouraging.
“Oregon’s economy is continuing to stabilize, and that is good news for working families and businesses across our state,” Kotek said in a statement. “To keep our economy moving in the right direction, we need to address core issues for Oregonians. Housing production, the addiction crisis, and access to child care are at the top of the list.”
Kotek said she’ll work with lawmakers in the 2024 session on those issues.
House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, said the stability will help with mental health and addiction treatment, affordable housing and child care funding. But Rayfield also stressed that lawmakers need to remember the long-term outlook, which shows the population leveling out.
“It’s essential to Oregon families – many of whom continue to need relief from rising costs despite the promising figures we saw today – that we remain measured in our commitments given that the long-term forecast anticipates that population and migration rates will level out,” Rayfield said.
Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, said the state needs to reduce the cost of living for Oregonians and grow the middle class.
“We must also be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, acknowledging that we have many forecasts remaining until the next state budget,” Wagner said.
Helfrich said the stable economic outlook is good for the short term, but he is “worried about tomorrow.”
The report showed more people leaving the state than moving into it in 2022, with departures across different income brackets and demographic groups.
“Population in Oregon is stagnating as people flee – and choose not to move near – the drugs and crime Oregon is rapidly becoming known for,” Helfrich said “This will have long-term consequences on revenues, which will further strain resources needed to address critical needs.”
Helfrich said the state needs “bipartisan buy-in to reverse this troubling trend,” adding the House Republicans will support legislation to make the state a safer and more affordable place to live and work.
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