Corporate Oregon's Largesse

Chuck Sheketoff

If you have ever wondered why Oregon's schools, programs for seniors, state police, and the Oregon Health Plan don't have enough money, just read line 30 on Oregon's corporate tax return form for tax year 2005.


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In May 2005, the Legislature thought it was going to cost Oregon just $62.6 million. By September 2005, when the "close of session" forecast was released, the cost had risen to $101 million. That's the amount that actual corporate tax revenues exceeded the projection for last biennium. As of the March 2006 forecast, line 30 is now estimated to cost $133.5 million. That is 113 percent more than the Legislature thought it was going to cost when they chose to do nothing and allowed the kicker to kick.

Imagine the outcry if an agency or a budgeted state program was costing 113% more than the Legislature thought!

When corporate Oregon takes more than double what the Legislature thought they were giving away, the Legislature does nothing to stop it.

The corporate kicker. One reason we're Stuck in Doonesbury.

  • Leo Schuman (unverified)

    How many publicly traded businesses would distribute an unexpected surplus to shareholders as dividends, without first re-investing all necessary amounts from that surplus into deferred maintenance, research, development, internal investment, and other precursors to growth? Not a single one, if they value their share price. And, no sane shareholder - as opposed to day trading riverboat gambler - would bat an eye for seeing a company self-finance its growth in this way.

    Too many so-called "conservatives" like to assert that government should run itself as a business, then scream when it tries to do so. Oregon's corporate kicker law is dumb as dirt from a financial management perspective. No publicly traded corporation could or would operate with such an insane restraint on financial management, and neither should the State of Oregon, particularly given the volatility of our income-centric funding system. Ride a bull without a rope and you get hurt, every single time.

    I would like to hear Oregon's business leadership explain how they would operate their own companies, if forced to immediately distribute 100% of surplus revenue as dividends, without regard to any deferred maintenance backlog, R&D, or growth planning requirements. Those corporate leaders unwilling to adopt mandatory 100% surplus distribution within their own companies should publicly endorse the corporate kicker repeal. If, that is, they truly believe government should run itself like a business.

  • (Show?)
    <h2>Well said Leo. Meanwhile the Republican candidates for governor seem content with the "dumb as dirt" kicker, great line Leo. None of the Republican candidates would raise corporate taxes. Saxton wants a 10% reduction in all state agengies; Kulongoski cut them to the bone when he inherited the nations worst unemployment/recession when he took office. Note: Kitz just stated in the new column, the Oregon Health Plan was unsustainable, treating the symptom, not the problem. Taking back the corporate kicker should be the number one mission to increase funding for education, health and human services in Oregon. Another lame idea from McIntire and friends. If we allow a Republican into the governor's office, we are all "dumb as dirt."</h2>

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