Behind Closed Doors: Oregon’s 2023 Legislative Session

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The 2023 Oregon Legislature will be remembered for its productive opening weeks, an extended walkout, and its hurried end. Lawmakers started the session where they knew they could find bi-partisan agreement: housing and semiconductor policy. ECONorthwest analysis was a cornerstone of both.

Oregon state House chamber

Image courtesy of oregonlegislature.gov

First out of the gate was a landmark bill, House Bill 2001, that overhauled how cities will address housing needs for future generations. New housing production targets will account for Oregon’s history of inadequate housing supply, projected population and job growth, and the needs of the currently unhoused. The state economist is charged with setting the production targets and will build on methods developed by ECONorthwest in partnership with Oregon Housing and Community Services during the past several years. In addition to enhanced target setting, the bill establishes new regulatory processes that the state will use to guide, support, and evaluate the progress of agreed-upon production strategies. If all goes as envisioned, Oregon will meet Governor Kotek’s goal of 36,000 new housing units per year—up from less than 20,000 per year today.

Graphic of effect of semiconductor campus expansion of Oregon State Revenue, 2024-2043The early session also saw broad support to grow the state’s semiconductor industry. Inspired by the federal CHIPS Act, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 4, which provided $200 million in state-funded incentives and granted the Governor unprecedented authority to make land available for the development of new fabs. ECONorthwest testified that the industry’s high average wages make it an especially attractive candidate for economic development. Our February 2023 study found that one new campus, developed in three phases, could support 8,500 direct jobs and generate a $2.8 billion state budget surplus over 20 years.

A 42-day walkout by Senate Republicans, in protest of Democratic bills on abortion and guns, slowed action for most of May and half of June. During that period, the state economist issued a $2 billion upward revision to the revenue forecast. Budget writers used the newly estimated resources to bolster K12 and higher education budgets.