The coronavirus is wreaking havoc across Oregon. Here we are, socially distanced at home, with hundreds of thousands of new unemployment claims on the books and business all but ground to a halt.
And all of this with no school! Undoubtedly, it’s the right decision to stay home for the foreseeable future, but we also can’t deny that it’s damaging our economy.
In the Capitol, some business is still moving forward. But the big item, the big thing that everyone is looking at, is the May 20 revenue forecast. The projection shows how much money the state has to spend, and everything I’m hearing is that it is not going to be good.
We expect a shortfall between $2 billion and $3 billion. If that happens, cuts are likely, even though the state has created healthy reserves for this type of financial recession. It’s all too soon to tell, but we’re telling districts to conserve any extra funds they have because it looks like this is going to be a storm we’re going to have to weather for a while.
When can we get back to normal? That’s the other question everyone has. Gov. Kate Brown spoke to business groups earlier this week, and the short summary of her answer is: When it’s safe. Brown is envisioning a tiered rollout to lift the stay home order, first loosening restrictions in targeted areas and with the requirement of strict physical distancing. Eventually businesses and large gatherings will come back, but only after medical checkpoints have been cleared.
I know it is an overused phrase, but these are unprecedented times causing many challenges for all Oregonians. Stay healthy and be safe.