SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Earlier this week, Oregon state Democrats passed a bill that would provide a one-time payment of $600 to low-income households with people who worked during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the bill passed the House with a 42-16 vote, it also passed the Senate this afternoon with a 23-2 vote.
“Low-wage workers are an essential part of our economy and are also the most vulnerable to rising
costs of daily necessities,” said Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland), chair of the Senate Labor and Business Affairs Committee, which introduced the bill in the Senate. “Cash payments make a huge difference in the lives of working individuals and families. They can help pay a utility bill, buy needed medications, or buy essentials like diapers and groceries. Cash payments also alleviate stress, providing families with some support to manage obstacles they face in their daily lives. House Bill 4157 is an opportunity to show support for our low-wage workers when they show up to do the jobs our economy depends on.
The payment is intended to help with the rising cost of living and meet the necessities of working families such as rent, groceries, prescriptions and childcare.
“Right now, many Oregonians, myself included, are struggling to get by as the cost of living has skyrocketed,” said state Rep. Andrea Valderrama (D -Portland), the primary sponsor of the bill, in a statement. “These payments can make a huge difference for low-income people and working families: they can help pay a utility bill, buy needed medicine, or buy essentials like diapers and groceries. “
Those who qualified and claimed the earned income tax credit on their 2020 personal income tax returns or who filed an amended 2020 income tax return by April 15 will be eligible to receive the payments. According to the Department of Revenue (DOR), approximately 250,000 Oregonians will qualify.
“We know the wealth gap has grown steadily since the pandemic,” State Rep. Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn) said in a statement. “This means rising costs are having a disproportionate impact on our lowest paid workers. With this legislation, we are reaching working families and people whose hard work is essential and is the backbone of our economy.
Eligible Oregonians will not be required to go through an application process and can expect checks or direct deposit as early as June.
Payments will be distributed through the DOR and funding will come from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund program, which is part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The bill will now go to Governor Kate Brown for her signature.