Governor Kate Brown will convene a one-day special session of the Legislature next week, during which she is asking lawmakers to consider $800 million in relief for Oregonians struggling in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and horrific wildfires that have ravaged the state this year.
According to the governor’s office, the funding will go toward helping tenants and landlords, funding coronavirus vaccine distribution and contact tracing, wildfire prevention and community preparedness and support for reopening Oregon’s schools.
“Oregonians are making tremendous sacrifices to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” Governor Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “While the risk reduction measures we have put in place are working to slow the spread, many Oregon families are struggling with unemployment, housing, food insecurity, and paying their bills.”
Those most impacted, Brown added, are minority groups that are often disproportionately affected by economic and social crises, including rural, Black, Indigenous, Latino/Latina/Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Tribal communities.
Brown said she is continuing to call on Congress to pass another large coronavirus relief package to bolster small businesses, workers and local governments, but “these calls have not yet been heeded.”
“It is clear that states must act on their own to provide a bridge until federal help arrives,” the governor said. “This is why I am calling on legislators from both sides of the aisle to come together in the best interests of the state.”
“We must protect Oregonians now, as we face some of our hardest days, whether by getting critical resources into the hands of those most in need, keeping a roof over people’s heads, or recognizing the incredible toll of this virus on our small businesses and restaurants.”
Oregon lawmakers must work together to “bridge the gap,” she said, as they continue to wait in the hopes of more federal relief, which has been stymied by partisan gridlock and the transition to a new presidential administration — a transition President Donald Trump and many of his supporters continue to dispute.
“I thank legislators for their work in addressing these critical issues next week, and I look forward to our progress,” Brown concluded.
Brown added that legislative officials are consulting the state epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, to help ensure a healthy and safe environment for conducting business.
Brown’s office had earlier this week announced new measures by the Oregon Department of Revenue to provide tax relief to Oregon small businesses suffering from the economic impacts of Covid-19.
These measures will eliminate penalties and interests on 2019 income tax due from Oregon businesses who are struggling to pay tax bills amid COVID-19 restrictions.
“I have heard from business owners across the state about the struggle to keep their doors open during these difficult times,” said Brown. “Small business owners who play by the rules shouldn’t face penalties and fees because COVID-19 has robbed them of their livelihood.”
The additional tax relief provisions apply to personal income, corporate excise and corporate income taxes, including 100% penalty and interest waivers on 2019 income tax due from small businesses that are impacted by Covid-19 and that have less than $5 million in gross receipts.
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