The American Rescue Plan in Oregon

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) was passed earlier this year and has made some very strong promises. This nationwide program aims to provide roughly $1 trillion “towards building a bridge to economic recovery for working families,” according to the brief released by the White House.

Locally, however, this bill aims to have a massive impact on the Oregon economy, following the repeated blows dealt by COVID-19. The plan will provide roughly $6.4 billion in federal money to help the state recover from the pandemic.

Among the resources it will offer are:

  • Assistance with finding a vaccine in your area;
  • Assistance with finding health coverage, either through OHP or COBRA;
  • A boost to food stamp coverage, allowing those who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) a larger budget for food;
  • Child tax credits of up to $300 per month;
  • Rent assistance for those struggling to pay rent regularly through the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance program;
  • Assistance with acquiring stimulus checks, with a typical family of four with a household income below $110,000 eligible for an average of $5,600 in rescue funds, and $1,400 for qualifying individuals;
  • Paid Leave Tax Credits for small business owners to allow their employees sick leave to get vaccinated;
  • Federal and state assistance for small businesses that are struggling due to the pandemic; and,
  • An additional $300 per week for unemployment benefits for those affected by the pandemic (this is only valid through Sept. 6, 2021).

Among the stated goals for Oregon’s funds allocated through the ARP is to “address the disparities that were exacerbated by the pandemic,” according to Governor Kate Brown’s guiding principles for the bill. 

Women, BIPOC communities, and those harmed by the pandemic and natural disasters in the past year-and-a-half are among those expected to receive assistance.

Governor Brown laid out a “10-point economic recovery plan” with the assistance of her Council of Economic Advisors and the Racial Justice Council. The steps are as follows:

  1. Investing in Oregon’s hardest-hit workers — in other words, those under or unemployed due to the pandemic;
  2. Reinvesting in innovative housing;
  3. Supporting resilient rural communities;
  4. Supporting Oregon’s struggling workforce;
  5. Workforce development, or “creating opportunities for Oregonians”;
  6. Supporting small businesses and getting them back up and running;
  7. Investing in Oregon’s infrastructure;
  8. Oregonians investing in Oregon;
  9. Safely reopening Oregon’s economy; and,
  10. Innovation in manufacturing.

These steps are admittedly not entirely clear at the moment, though one can hope that among the infrastructure reworks is a rebuilding of the unemployment system, which has struggled heavily during the pandemic.

While many of Governor Brown’s promises sound great, they have little backing information on specifically how the 10-point plan will be achieved. 

In Portland, which will be receiving $208 million, there are some more concrete plans laid out. These include upgrades to public health and emergency response systems, investments in city infrastructure such as water and sewer, and premium pay for workers performing essential services.

To find out how Corvallis plans to use these funds, check out the League of Oregon Cities website for updates.

The first ARP payments were given in May of this year, with more expected in early to mid-2022.

By Ethan Hauck