May state revenue forecast predicts significant growth

On May 19, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released the May 2021 Revenue Forecast. This is the fifth forecast capturing the impact of COVID-19 on Oregon’s economy, the second of 2021, and the final forecast before the biennial budget is finalized and adopted by lawmakers in late June.

As the state economist put it – Oregon has not seen revenue growth this fast since the "morning in America moment" of 1984. Highlights include:

  • General Fund and other major revenues have significantly exceeded pre-COVID-19 levels, and a projected ending balance is now up $1,087.3 million from the March 2021 revenue forecast.
  • Projected 2019-2021 Net General Fund Resources are up $1,065.5 million (4.4%) from the March 2021 forecast.
  • Projected 2019-2021 Lottery Resources are up $21.8 million (1.7%) from the March 2021 forecast.
  • Projected Combined net General Fund and Other Revenue Resources are up $1,087.3 million (4.2%) for the 2019-2021 biennium from the March 2021 forecast.

Budgetary Reserves: The State continues to be well positioned due to significant reserves and substantial federal aid. The Oregon Rainy Day Fund is projected to have an ending balance of $962.2 million for the 2019-2021 biennium. Additionally, the Education Stability Fund is projected to have an ending balance of $414.4 million this biennium. Combined, the two funds will total close to $1.3 billion. Combined with the General Fund having roughly $2.82B, that brings Oregon’s reserves to roughly $4.2B for the current biennium.

Lottery: Available resources in 2019-21 are up $22 million from the March 2021 forecast and by $106 million in 2021-23 from the March 2021 forecast. Video lottery sales are rebounding strongly across the state with the past 5 weeks being the largest in Oregon’s history. The March forecast expected a rebound in lottery sales and that forecast came to fruition in a big way.

How does this impact UO’s legislative priorities?

UO will continue to work with other universities to secure $900 million in the Public University Support Fund, and a $200 million investment in the Oregon Opportunity Grant. The forecast will also clear the way for UO to advocate more directly for smaller investments such as basic needs navigator positions to support students on campuses as well as funding for part-time faculty health care outside of the university support fund.

We will also continue to advocate for funding for the Heritage Renovation Project. UO is seeking $58.5 million in bond proceeds to renovate University and Villard Halls, and the position of this project on state’s ranking of university capital construction projects puts it on the edge of being funded or not.

Lawmakers now have the information they need to make final decisions, pass budgets and complete session business by June 27, the date by which the law dictates the session must end.