Greg Walden Calls on Governor Brown, Legislative Leaders to Help Local Governments with COVID-related Expense

May 5, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today called on Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Legislative Leaders to share a portion of the funds Congress sent to states with local governments to help them deal with unexpected COVID-19-related costs. 
 
In a letter to the Governor, Walden made it clear that Congress fully intended for a portion of the $1.6 billion sent to the state of Oregon be shared with local governments to help them cope with unexpected costs related to the coronavirus.  
 
"Importantly, many states—including our neighbors in Washington and Idaho—have already moved forward to make funds available to their local government partners,” wrote Walden. 
 
Walden has worked with the U.S. Department of Treasury to help get answers to questions and guidance for those seeking appropriate relief.  In the letter, Walden noted that the further guidance the Department of Treasury issued last night makes it clear that COVID-related costs borne by local government are eligible for assistance from the state. You can find that guidance here. 
 
“Commissioners throughout my district are asking for financial help. Every county faces costs to comply with the state’s plan to reopen.  If nothing else, these are clearly COVID-related costs of compliance,” wrote Walden. 
 
He concluded the letter be asking the Governor and the Emergency Board of the Legislature reconsider the decision to not share funds with local governments, and instead do what was intended by Congress when they voted to send the funds to the states. 
 
The full test of Walden’s letter to Governor Brown is below and here.
 

May 5, 2020

 

The Honorable Kate Brown 

Governor of Oregon 

State Capitol 

Salem, OR 97310 



Dear Governor Brown, 


I know we share a common commitment to do all we can to make sure our local governments are not left out of the equation when funds provided to the state for unbudgeted, COVID-19-related expenses.  In my regular conversations with county commissioners, mayors, councilors and special district leaders, it is clear that they have unbudgeted, COVID-19-related costs and they are in definite need of financial assistance. 

Governor, as you and I have discussed, while the funds Congress made available to states cannot be used for direct revenue replacement, the Department of Treasury has continued to issue guidance making clear that COVID-related costs borne by local government are eligible for assistance from the state.  The latest guidance came out last night and can be found at:  https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Coronavirus-Relief-Fund-Frequently-Asked-Questions.pdf 


Importantly, many states—including our neighbors in Washington and Idaho—have already moved forward to make funds available to their local government partners.  The governor of Idaho established an advisory committee that recommended, among other things, that $94 million be set aside on a per-capita basis for each city and county to draw upon for their qualified COVID-related expenses.   

Commissioners throughout my district are asking for financial help. Every county faces costs to comply with the state’s plan to reopen.  If nothing else, these are clearly COVID-related costs of compliance.  I write to ask that you and the Emergency Board of the Legislature reconsider the decision to not share funds with local governments, and instead do what other states are already doing to help their local government partners as was intended by Congress when we voted to send states these funds. 


Sincerely, 

Greg Walden 

Oregon’s 2nd District 

U.S. Representative 

 

cc:  Oregon County Commissioners 

       Oregon State Legislators