The $62.6 Million Question

Chuck Sheketoff

Now that the Legislature has finally gone home, are you bemoaning the scanty support your favorite public services will receive this two year budget period?

Maybe you think K-12 education has once again been shorted, cheating Oregon’s children out of a hard-to-be-recovered chance for a 21st century education.

Maybe you think that combating the meth problem will require improved and expanded access to drug and alcohol treatment programs, and not just tougher criminal sanctions and foregoing over-the-counter Sudafed.

Maybe you think that one way to prevent children dying from abuse or neglect while under the State’s watch is to hire more caseworkers to deal with the increase in the number of children needing help.

Maybe you think that more of Oregon’s working poor families should get help with child care, and that child care facilities need to be held to higher standards through increased inspection and enforcement.

Maybe you think Oregon’s pre-kindergarten/Head Start program ought to help every low-income, eligible child become better prepared for school and life, not just 60 percent of them.

Maybe you think our Oregon Health Plan needs to be expanded to stem the rising tide of uninsured Oregonians.

Maybe you think that tuition and fees at Oregon’s public universities are too high.

I bet you could find at least one use for some or all of the $62.6 million that the Legislature meekly chose to give to relatively few, large, profitable corporations in a one-time, unanticipated tax cut.

You won’t find a vote score on the corporate tax cut anywhere, however, because it takes action by the Legislature to stop the corporate kicker tax cut and the Legislature didn’t have the gumption to put the issue to a vote. They just sat back and let the tax cut happen, while also doling out other permanent tax cuts for Oregon corporations and cutting programs and services Oregonians use and rely upon each day.

So, now we have corporations paying less than 5 percent of Oregon’s income taxes, down from 18 percent in the mid-1970s. And because the economy did better over the last couple of years than the forecasters’ crystal ball projected back in May 2003, a few profitable Oregon companies – not the ones who might actually need some help – get another tax cut. About half of the total tax cut will flow to only 50 or so Oregon corporations. Ninety percent of the total tax cut will be bestowed on fewer than four out of every 100 corporations.

The Legislature actively increased corporate giveaways, and passively allowed the corporate kicker tax cut to kick. Fattening the coffers of already-profitable corporations apparently was a higher priority for the Legislature than investing in children’s welfare, child care, education, crime prevention, and health care.

What would you have done with the $62.6 million?

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Chuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy.   You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

  • Gretchen Kafoury (unverified)

    Right on Chuck! Despite the Governor's comments (of praise) it was a lousy session for the people. We did get the refundable earned income tax credit, at least I think we did, but no hold on the Pay Day Lenders who are bilking poor people, etc. etc. Keep up the good work! Gretchen Kafoury (OK, I admit it, I'm Chair of the Board for OCPP, but you always are way ahead of the pack with your research, and that's why I'm on the board!)

  • Christy (unverified)

    I would have funded education at $5.4 billion. Duh. No reason in the world not to with the way revenue forecasts improved. I can't even wrap my head around why the Rs would not allow it to happen.

  • Anon (unverified)

    In my opinion the reason the R's didn't fund education was they want to try and shut down the teacher's unions.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)

    Hooray for Chuck, and three cheers for Gretchen Kafoury--a true progressive hero.

    Here's hoping that the D. leadership (assuming they still have a majority in the Senate, and here's hoping for the House as well) can get their act together in time for the next session. Memo to Kate Brown and co.: don't agree to the R's budget "deal" right off the bat. Stand up for something. Call their abuses of power for what they are. Stop the secret back room deals that sell the people down the river.

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