[Medford, Oregon] — May 17, 2020, In a letter to County Commissioners across Oregon and each member of the Oregon State Legislators the Jackson County Board of Commissioners are questioning the restrictions on using Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for small business relief grants or economic recovery programs. “First we had to fight to get the funding out to rural Counties after Portland and Multnomah and Washington Counties received their distribution directly,” says Colleen Roberts, Chair of Jackson County Board of Commissioners. “Now we have to fight to be able to use the funds the way they were clearly intended when given by the Federal Government for rural Counties.”
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners are asking what were the specific policy considerations contemplated when Governor Brown, Speaker Kotek, and Senate President Courtney decided that two-thirds (67.2 percent) of the population of Oregon in the remaining 34 counties should specifically be excluded from using the CARES Act funding for small business relief grants or economic recovery programs?
“The hits keep on coming from Salem to rural Oregon,” adds Bob Strosser, Jackson County Commissioner. “Congress clearly intended that these funds be made available to help adequately respond to the public health costs AND to assist businesses and workers during this pandemic, and our businesses need this help now!”
“The CARES Act spelled out that this funding can be used for expenditures related to the provision of grants to small businesses to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures. Multnomah County, Washington County and the City of Portland can freely spend these funds on as many of these programs they deem necessary to help affected businesses. Under this draft proposal, smaller counties will get ZERO CARES Act funding to spend on any of these absolutely vital programs. I can state unequivocally, creating such an egregious disparity was NOT the intent of Congress,” says Rick Dyer, Jackson County Commissioner. “We are asking the County Commissioners and State Legislators to help in representing the people of the rest of Oregon, and to call on the Governor to make this right and enable us to help our businesses before it’s too late.”
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