Hazard Pay Costs, Funding for Oregon Frontline Workers Revealed

It’s looking like Oregon is going to be paying a handsome sum of $23.6 million in hazard payments to state employees who worked in person during the first 16 months of the pandemic.  

These payments will be up to $1,550 per person. Any state employee that worked a minimum of 200 hours of overtime during the initial stages of the pandemic will receive an extra $575.  

This is thanks to the deal that Governor Kate Brown signed in July — though according to OregonLive, the Brown administration hadn’t calculated the costs it would incur.   

The money will come from a combination of lottery funds, federal money, and general tax fund dollars, as well as several other non-federal earmarked funds. Lawmakers with the Ways and Means committee were supposed to hear an update on the plan this Friday, but the hearing was canceled due to a COVID-19 case during this week’s special session.  

While the nearly $24 million payouts may seem steep, the original frontline worker payment proposed in 2020 would have cost roughly $450 million. It would have also included back-to-work incentives to the tune of $1,200 for those who returned to work after collecting unemployment.  

Frontline workers, such as food service workers and those in the energy and water sectors, would have received $2,000 if they stayed on the job during the pandemic. 

A good portion of the money will come from the remaining American Rescue Plan funds, which House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said was her primary spending priority for the remainder of federal funds. 

Kotek announced on Sept. 1 that she would be running for governor in next year’s upcoming gubernatorial elections. 

By: Ethan Hauck