Our Children Oregon is carefully tracking policy discussions at the federal and state levels, and we are sharing our priorities with elected officials to ensure resources reach children and families, and that small businesses, especially child care operations, have the supports they need to be able to reopen their doors and hire back workers so that our communities can thrive. It is particularly important for Oregon to prioritize its resources, because the state cannot operate in a deficit, unlike the federal government.
The US Congress has passed three major pieces of legislation that will help children and families weather this crisis. An announcement about a special legislative session in Oregon is expected to come out in the coming days.
In addition to addressing health care needs, highlights of the federal bills including:
- Expanding SNAP benefits and allowing states to waive certain requirements to help ensure people have food. Oregon has already submitted at least six federal waivers to streamline our processes.
- Expanding Unemployment Insurance benefits, and allowing states to reduce barriers to getting benefits.
- Direct payments to tax filers, with an additional payment for children.
- Relief for both small and large businesses, including child care operations.
The federal stimulus package, which passed the Senate on Wednesday night and the House on Friday, totals $2 trillion – that is twice what was invested in response to the 2008 Great Recession, and about half of the annual federal budget.
At the state level, the Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response met for many hours over the last two weeks to discuss what action the Oregon Legislature needs to take to get immediate relief to Oregonians and keep our governmental systems functioning. Oregon must maintain a balanced budget, so has to weigh the needs of Oregonians with our collective ability to be able to pay for services. The co-chairs submitted a list of recommendations for consideration. We are waiting for next steps on the special session, and will use our newsletter to keep you updated on state and federal policy activities.