Our testimony before the Oregon Legislature is available on our website. We’re looking at bills and talking with their sponsors. We support some and are working to amend or kill others.
SB 1524 is the House and Senate tax committees’ omnibus vehicle for substantive and technical changes to law. Senate Finance held a hearing February 7, and we testified on two issues:
- Section 1 of the bill would increase the subsidy to individual films through the Oregon Film Office. Last year the legislature increased the total subsidy funded by the auction of tax credits from $14 million to $20 million; now the committee proposes to raise the percentage of a movie’s costs funded by taxpayers. It appears that since Oregon Film expects to be flush with cash after the next auction, it wants to push it out the door faster. Our real objection is the structure of the subsidy: In 2021, the legislature got $12.7 million in moviemaking with $14 million; the difference went to those who bought the tax credits, a no-risk investment in the form of reduced income tax liability.
- The -1 amendment concerns Gain Share, another dubious program that currently send $16 million a year to Oregon’s richest county (Washington) and $700,000 to seven other counties. There are other 15-year property tax exemptions that the General Fund does not reimburse. Advocates want to push through a six-year extension without proper review. We’re trying to stop it.
SB 1507 would create exceptions to the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT). Rural, independent pharmacies are closing across the state, and some legislators blame the ½% CAT. But their problem, in addition to the inflation that’s hurting everyone, is the monopoly control of middlemen known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers that dictate the price of prescription drugs. State economists have told legislators that the CAT’s funding for K-12 is less than projected. Creating more exceptions to the CAT would come at the expense of our kids’ education, which faces its own Covid-related challenges.
SB 1502 – Amend: A tax credit for small-woodland owners written with provisions that would likely cause other business tax credit programs to get expended to match it.
SB 1506 – Support: Allows localities to raise their share of the marijuana tax from 3% to 10%; Measure 110 shifted tax revenue from cities and counties for substance-abuse treatment. This bill will help backfill some of the lost local revenue.
SB 1569 – Support: Allows the collection of voluntarily disclosed ethnic and racial data on tax returns so that policymakers better understand who benefits. The Finance Committee approved the bill on February 7.
HB 4002 – Amend: The bill requiring overtime pay for farmworkers includes an employer tax credit; neither Washington nor California have found it necessary to subsidize overtime.
HB 4043 – Amend: The bill intended to encourage the retention of low-income housing at sale would give obscenely generous tax benefits to their sellers.
HB 4054 – Amend: The Historic Property tax bill was written too hastily.
HB 4055 – Amend: The Harvest Tax bill is critical to keeping the forest industry paying a least some tax until we get reform.
HB 4066 – Amend: Vets who are disabled would pay lower property taxes. The bill would be fairer with a different approach to the exemption.
HB 4079 – Still being drafted, the bill would create a sales tax on luxury products to fund basic support to low-income Oregonians, like foster kids aging out of foster care and single, pregnant women. In principle, TFO supports a broad-based sales tax with exceptions for groceries and other items common in other states, paired with a restructuring of income tax brackets to mitigate the harm to low-income Oregonians.
HB 4097 – Oppose: $1000 tax credit for “volunteering” as a firefighter. Local tax revenue should support local services.
Review our testimony at our website, write you legislators about your opinions on these and other bills. We’ll send alerts when we have time.