We read the bills and follow the money

February 18, 2016  |   Posted by :   |   Homepage Feature   |   0 Comment»

What is Tax Fairness up to in Salem?

In the short 2016 session the TFO steering committee screened the more than 250 bills and studied deeply where we felt necessary. There were 19 tax break bills, plus another handful that would reduce revenue. Only three bills would raise revenue.

TFO applied the following guidelines to determine the cost/benefits of proposed legislation:

  1. Until Oregon has adequate resources to support basic infrastructure needs for education, transportation, basic social services and affordable housing, state and local resources should NOT be passing tax breaks that would reduce revenue until we know whether IP 28 will be supported by Oregonians in the November election.
  2. Any tax incentives should guarantee job creation and/maintenance.
  3. TFO will support tax incentives and property tax abatements when it is to be used as seed money and tools for developing a state’s economy, not as long-term tax breaks.
  4. No sunsets should be extended or eliminated to jump past systematic review.
Here are some positions we took on major proposed bills (you can find all our testimonies here):
  • SB 1565: provides property tax breaks on industrial improvements exceeding $1m in cost
    TFO opposes as the bill is too general, is not conditioned on job creation and further reduces resources available for school funding, police protection, parks, courts, etc. 
  • SB 1507: Expands property tax breaks and subsidies. Adds $4 m a year to Film & Video subsidies, increases wolf depredation and manure digester tax breaks and extends their sunsets along with the sunset for the University Venture Development Fund (UVDF) — without review.
    TFO opposes this bill which will reduce revenue by $20 m by 2019-21, and allows tax breaks and subsidies to be continued without appropriate sunset review. TFO opposes the UVDF provision as it expands donor benefits without cost savings to the state, and does not assure proper reporting to taxing authorities.
  • SB 1513: Property tax breaks for families of public safety personnel
    TFO opposes tax breaks for special interest groups until a comprehensive general revision of state tax system resolves the PERS and school funding crisis. 
  • HB 4146: increase of state transient lodging tax from 1% to 2%
    TFO asked for a significantly higher increase in order to align Oregon’s tourist taxes with taxes imposed by other states and suggested that the funds be used to support low-income housing, (needed by the low-wage workers in the tourist industry) rather than to provide more support for tourism.
  • HB 4072: Makes changes to tax credits for donations to the University Venture Development Fund
    TFO opposes this bill as the proposal expands donor benefits and does not assure proper reporting to taxing authorities.
We supported the following bills as being GOOD POLICY IMPROVEMENTS:
  • SJR 201: Property tax reform bill – we recommended several improvements to the bill. Oregon’s property taxes definitely need reform; they are the least fair of our taxes.
  • HJR 205: Asks voters to allow limits to campaign contributions
  • HB 4065: Ensures that state’s business partners pay taxes
  • HB 4027: A plan to sunset and review additional tax expenditures
  • HB 4035: C-Corporations to provide disclosure of tax and other benefits they provide to the state
For a complete list and text of all TFO testimony in this legislative session click here.

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