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Business tax overhaul could raise up to $3 billion for biennium

Lawmaker say cuts also part of shortfall solution

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon lawmakers rolled out a broad proposal Tuesday to overhaul the state's corporate tax system that could generate up to $3 billion in extra revenue for the next two-year budget.

That would be enough money to solve the upcoming $1.6 billion shortfall and keep government services running at their current levels.

But that's just the highest estimate from a broad range of potential business tax rates under consideration, and other proposals such as lowering taxes for low-income households and raising tobacco taxes could be factored into the final revenue package.

Lawmakers also stressed that the 2017-19 budget shortfall will be addressed through a combination of tax reforms and government spending cuts.

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Here's some of the initial reaction:

House Republican Leader Mike McLane Responds to Tax Increase Framework

Salem, Ore. - House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) issued the following statement in response to the tax increase framework presented in the Joint Tax Reform Committee today:

“While I appreciate the efforts of Senator Hass, I do not believe Oregonians would support this latest rendition of Measure 97. Oregon voters said no to a gross receipts tax less than six months ago. They said no because they understand that this form of taxation will result in higher prices for consumers and because they want to see a commitment to spending reform from their state government before new taxes. Oregon leaders should develop a balanced, three-step approach to solving our 10-year budget challenge, but I do not believe that should include the proposal outlined today.”

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Statement from House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson on
Joint Tax Reform Committee Framework

“It’s clear that Oregonians believe we need to fully fund our K-12 schools, keep our promises to seniors and people with disabilities, and support a strong, equitable economy that will create a brighter future for everyone. Unfortunately, our outdated, broken revenue system has forced us to piece together years of inadequate, unstable budgets.  Without bold action now, it’s going to get much worse over the next several years.

“Oregonians—including students, seniors, families, and small business owners—are looking to us for real solutions that improve their lives. They are not looking for empty rhetoric.

“The business tax reform framework presented today in the Joint Tax Reform Committee is a great step forward. The framework would create a revenue system that’s simpler for businesses, creates more stability for school funding, and takes some of the burden off of working families, who are shouldering almost all of the weight of funding our critical services. Combined with cost-containment efforts, this could finally allow us to make investments in our schools that will create the future our kids deserve.

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A Better Oregon Response to Business Announcement Regarding Corporate Taxes

Statement by Hannah Love, Campaign Manager, A Better Oregon

By pledging today that Oregon’s businesses will not participate in discussions around taxes until next legislative session, big business is asking Oregonians to face two more years of underfunded schools and unaffordable health care. This is yet another example of business’ brazen moving of the goal posts when it comes to meaningful compromise. Our state cannot afford more stall tactics from the business community.

For years, but especially during the 2016 election and the subsequent 2017 legislative session, Oregon’s big business community has constantly changed their story regarding their willingness to support new taxes on Oregon businesses.

As many of you know, Oregon has some of the lowest business taxes in the country. As a result, we have underfunded schools and family services. The A Better Oregon coalition has long fought for increased investments in schools and families by raising taxes on corporations. In recent months, we’ve worked hard to collaborate with legislative and business leaders to find the solution that works for the entire state. Today Senator Hass and the Joint Committee on Tax Reform started a serious conversation about business taxes, and in response, the business community dismissed him.

Attached is a series of quotes from business leaders about their willingness to participate in this important discussion. As you can see, the dates change but their message doesn’t. Each time they say, “After this, then…”

This kick-the-can approach hurts families in every Oregon community. Oregon families can’t afford to wait.

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Oregon Student Association:

Oregon students are facing unprecedented tuition increases this year due to a lack of funding and steady pattern of disinvestment from higher education.. Students are hurting financially on multiple fronts from housing to textbooks to food. 68% of students in Oregon graduate with debt, where the average debt load per graduate is $31,000. The high cost of education has priced students out of an education and is causing them to drown in debt. 

Education is what low-income families like mine are depending on in order to improve the quality of our lives and our future generations. 

  • Candalynn Johnson, Oregon Student Association Board Member 

The disinvestment from higher education is largely due to Oregon’s revenue problem. Oregon has the lowest corporate taxes in the country, and is one of the lowest in higher education funding. Low corporate taxes have created a budget shortfall, increasing them slightly can fix that. 

The business tax reform framework that was presented to the Joint Tax Reform committee this morning gives Oregon students hope. It proposes a way for businesses to pay their share in taxes and provide Oregon with critical services. Thanks to legislative leadership for taking the first steps in making revenue and investments a priority this session. 


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