August 13, 2020
Hello Nonprofit Leaders and Supporters,

This past week was a whirlwind, with a lot of political action taking place as the Oregon legislature held a marathon session and talks bogged down in Washington D.C. on the next stimulus package. I just want to keep reminding you all that community depends on you now more than ever in this time of crisis. Thank you all for your dedication and service to our communities. 

Now, let’s get into it…
At the State Level

In a day-long session on Monday, the Oregon Legislature rebalanced the state budget in a one-day special session based on projected budget shortfalls by the state’s economists. They were able to close a more than $1 billion budget hole that emerged as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. The budget that lawmakers ultimately approved makes approximately $400 million in cuts and taps $440 million in one-time funds and resource adjustments. It also draws down $400 million from the constitutionally dedicated Education Stability Fund in order to protect education, health care, and other core services.

Sadly, the entire process had very little opportunity for public vetting. Only invited testimony was heard by the legislature and written testimony was blunted by giving very little notice when it would be accepted.

The Governor has already signaled that she is not happy with the package as passed by the legislature, citing the need to keep those rainy-day funds untapped, in case they are needed later in the pandemic and economic crisis. It is unclear if she will send the budget package back to the legislature for further work.

Below is a partial list of programs and services that were prioritized for preservation or investments. A full list of the legislature’s work can be found in a press release by House Speaker Kotek.

K-12 Education

  • The K-12 State School Fund was spared from any cuts and remains at $9 billion.

  • Most investments from the 2019 Student Success Act continue, with $170 million for early learning programs, $246 million for statewide initiatives including the High School Success Fund (Ballot Measure 98), and $150 million for local plans with an emphasis on supporting the social and emotional health of students.

Housing

  • Housing stabilization programs, including the Emergency Housing Assistance and State Homeless Assistance programs, are maintained.

  • $50 million in additional bonding was approved to provide affordable housing for low income and historically underserved communities and communities of color, through the Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) Housing Program.

Human Services and Public Health

  • Most of the essential programs in the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services are maintained due to increased federal Medicaid resources.

  • Child welfare programs will only see minimal reductions (exact numbers unclear) in order to maintain investments in staffing, new programs, and legal services.

  • Critical health care and public health services are maintained, including current Oregon Health Plan benefits and eligibility, community mental health and substance use disorder services, Oregon State Hospital bed capacity, and Public Health Modernization services.

  • Provider rate increases that were approved in the 2019 session affecting several agency programs are continued to strengthen the delivery of services.

  • Oregon Project Independence services for both seniors and younger persons living with disabilities are maintained.

  • Veterans’ services are protected by maintaining key positions in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and continuing services related to Veterans’ Emergency Financial Assistance, the Veterans Crisis Line, and the Rural Veterans’ Healthcare Transportation and Veteran Educational Bridge grant programs.

Infrastructure Investments

The legislature also approved infrastructure investments, both bonding and cash grants, to support local water systems, emergency preparedness, and major renovations of public buildings.

Water Systems and Emergency Preparedness

  • $4.2 million to complete an emergency request from the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs for critical components of their water infrastructure improvement plan. In July, the Emergency Board allocated $3.6 million to finance a number of specific improvements. Major improvements are still needed to support the health of residents of the Warm Springs Reservation.

  • $7.5 million for construction of seismic stations as part of the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system administered by the University of Oregon. Higher Education The legislature approved bonding for four projects at public universities, totaling about $170 million. 

Child Care and Early Learning

The legislature approved $6.9 million for four child care and early learning-related projects from the Early Learning account of the Fund for Student Success.

  • $1.4 million for Port of Morrow Early Learning Expansion to build additional educational space for Head Start.

  • $2.5 million for the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette for the Beaverton Hoop YMCA to build a Child Development Center.

  • $2 million for the Rogue Valley Children’s Discovery Museum for the renovation of an existing build for early learning classrooms, interactive family engagement activities, and community early childhood program space.

  • $1 million for the Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness for the early learning portion of a joint project with Winding Waters Medical Clinic to provide comprehensive primary and mental health services to Wallowa County.

Coronavirus Relief Fund Cultural Support application now live!

Applications are now live and open for Oregon’s Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) Cultural Support program. Funds allocated to the Oregon Cultural Trust will be available to Oregon cultural organizations facing losses due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The $25.9 million in funding was made available through a $50 million relief package for Oregon culture recently approved by the Emergency Board of the Oregon Legislature. The funding will be distributed rapidly by September 15.

All Oregon cultural nonprofits and community venues are welcome to apply. Eligible grant recipients include, but are not limited to, cultural institutions, county fairgrounds, cultural entities within federally recognized Indian Tribes based in Oregon, and festivals and community event organizations. NAO encourages all cultural nonprofits to take advantage of this program. We know that you’ve been hit hard by the closures and suspensions of programs. 
At the Federal Level

As we reported on Tuesday, Congress is now in August recess but leadership continues to try to work out their next move in the wake of President Trump’s Executive Orders signed over the weekend extending rent moratoriums and unemployment benefits. The House is currently scheduled to next return for votes in the middle of September. Democratic leaders have told members the chamber could return before then if they can reach an agreement with the White House for a stimulus package. House Speaker Pelosi warned that “people could die” if talks drag on until the end of September, but also indicated negotiators remain far apart in the talks.

Executive Memo on Payroll Tax Deferral

  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Tuesday that he would only support making President Trump's payroll-tax holiday permanent if it was coupled with a larger reform to ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security. Grassley told The Hill in an interview that he would like to see the Social Security Trust Fund, which is funded by payroll taxes, made whole next year if Trump and Congress transform the deferral of those taxes in 2020 into a permanent cut. The full article can be read here.


UI Update for Self-Insured Nonprofits

Nine days after the President signed the Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act (S. 4209), the Labor Department updated its guidance for reimbursing employers to make clear that nonprofits do not have to pay 100 percent of the costs of unemployment claims. The new guidance, UIPL 18-20, Change 1, states: “Under the amendments made by the Protecting Nonprofits Act [S. 4209], states are required to use the transfer of federal funds provided under [the CARES Act] exclusively to reduce the amount required to be paid by reimbursing employers in lieu of contributions.” The Labor Department, however, will still penalize (or short-change) states that forgive reimbursing employers for 100 percent of those costs, explaining that “states that choose to relieve employers of more than 50 percent of the amount owed will be required to return the balance of the federal funds,” meaning that any state relief greater than 50 percent will cost the states the federal reimbursement money they would otherwise be due. This is fixable, but it may require states to rewrite executive orders, legislation, and other guidance to stay within the strictures of the guidance.

(UIPL 18-20, Change 1 - Amendments to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 – Emergency Unemployment Relief for State and Local Governmental Entities, Certain Nonprofit Organizations, and Federally-Recognized Indian Tribes has been added to the ETA Advisory database and is now available at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=8149.)

Paycheck Protection Program Updates

Despite SBA opening the portal for lenders to process PPP loan-forgiveness applications, many lenders are advising their clients from rushing to file their applications. This is not just a phenomenon in Oregon. Politico writes that banks are trying to decide how quickly to begin accepting loan forgiveness applications from millions of borrowers. "We are encouraging our customers to wait for any possible congressional action that might streamline the forgiveness process," Bank of the West Vice Chairman Cynthia Blankenship said. Ruth McCambridge, citing an American Banker article, suggests that “the fact that the banks have a declared dog in the fight could matter to lawmakers” who are trying to decide if and what to do about restarting and revising the PPP. Automatic Forgiveness on PPP Loans Looks Likely as Banks Push for It, Ruth McCambridge, Nonprofit Quarterly, Aug. 12, 2020.

On Tuesday night the SBA & Treasury released further additional guidance on the PPP:


  • Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs # 50 and #51 have been added. FAQ #51 confirms that vision and dental benefits count as eligible payroll expenses.


They also issued their latest Summary of PPP lending as of 8/8/20. Of note, there is $133,987,798,876 in remaining funding, which presumably will be used in any revised PPP that comes out of the COVID relief legislative process.

Universal Charitable Deduction Update

We haven’t been hearing much from congressional staff or national colleagues about the universal charitable deduction, suggesting that enthusiasm may be waning as the political parties parry over the stimulus package. We are hoping that a recent article from the conservative, faith-based perspective in The Hill newspaper will help change that: Congress should remove roadblocks to generosity for nonprofits. The author, Chelsea Sobolick, is a policy director for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The article concludes, “Congress should prioritize ways to incentivize individual generosity so that the charitable sector and faith-based organizations can continue providing vital services for communities around the nation.”
Upcoming Online Sessions

Strategic Health Benefits Planning for Your Upcoming Renewal: A Conversation you Can't Afford to Miss: Thursday, August 20, 10 – 11 a.m. PT: Health benefits renewal is coming, ready or not! Nonprofit leadership have a tremendous responsibility to strategically plan for a potentially challenging upcoming health benefits renewal season. The earlier risk can be identified, assessed, managed, and integrated into strategic planning, the better. Lead your nonprofit out of the hazardous cycle of skyrocketing premiums and diminishing health benefits. Join Lesley Brown Albright, Senior Marketing Manager of Nonstop Administration & Insurance Services, Inc.; Libra Forde, COO at Self-Enhancement, Inc.; and Todd Kimball, Partner at CFO Selections to learn how your nonprofit can strategically approach health plan design to control costs and improve health benefits for your employees. There’ll also be time for questions and answers. Register for the session here.

The Ultimate Grant Proposal Blueprint Course: Your Step-by-Step Roadmap and Built-It-Yourself Toolkit for Crafting an A+ Grant Proposal, an eight-week online course scheduled from August 24-October 26: In this comprehensive, on-your-own-schedule video-based, course from GrantsMagic U, veteran grant writer, grant consultant, and grantmaker Maryn Boess pulls back the curtain on what it really takes to be successful in the grants world. She will share hundreds of tried-and-tested tools, strategies, how-to's and "insider's tips" to take you to your next level of grants success no matter where you're starting out.. More details here.

Charitable Giving Trends and Strategic Insights, Tuesday, August 25, 10 – 11 a.m. PT: Last year, we knew charitable giving in the U.S. would be different in 2020 mainly due to economic conditions and tax law implications, but we had no idea how different until we were in the midst of COVID-19. Giving USA is the most comprehensive report about charitable giving in the nation... but what can it tell us about giving in a time of crisis? In this webinar brought to you by Unemployment Services Trust, Melissa Brown, a nationally recognized researcher and speaker will share valuable insights into recent studies of donors, charitable giving and disaster response; how giving trends have been changing in recent years; and donor giving patterns in response to economic and social forces. She will discuss how nonprofits survived prior crises and recessions, and what nonprofit fundraisers can do now. Register for the session here.

The Rapid Redesign Project – a two-part cohort on Wednesdays, September 9, and September 23, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. PT: Steve Patty, Founder of Dialogues in Action, along with DIA colleagues Jessamyn Luiz and Landen Zernickow invite your organization to participate in a two-day facilitated cohort around redesigning your program strategy due to impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. This cohort will help you design solutions for the immediate challenges of your program; fix some of your chronic and pre-existing issues of your program; and grow the leadership for your program. Let’s reframe our thinking! Registration allows up to five staff members. To participate, fill out this registration form by Friday, September 4. Learn more.
I hope that you all stay safe and healthy!

Sincerely,
Jim White
Executive Director
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