By Jef Green of Portland, Oregon. Jef is the director of public relations for Oregon Business Assocation - and a longtime campaign staffer for Democratic candidates.
As a regular reader and fan of BlueOregon, I take great interest in the discussions that take place here, especially when OBA is part of the conversation. As the OBA Director of Public Relations, I think it is important that I set the record straight on a couple of relevant facts.
We have heard too often from many good friends that we did not support an increase in the $10 corporate minimum. Nothing could be further from the truth. OBA on its own initiative put forth a comprehensive tax package that included a permanent corporate minimum increase ranging from $250 - $60,000. More than half of our proposal was made up of permanent changes to Oregon’s business tax structure. No major business organization in the nation has made such an offer. In fact, had OBA’s package been adopted it would have established the highest corporate minimum in the nation with California being second with an $800 minimum.
In response to the current budget crisis, our plan also included a significant increase in the corporate excise tax that would sunset after the economy turns around. Again this represents a group of business leaders stepping up to help protect our schools and other vital services during a difficult time. (View the press conference announcing the OBA corporate tax package.) It is also important to note that OBA was poised to tackle kicker reform in February to ensure we had larger reserves in place for the next time a recession hit Oregon.
The last and perhaps most important point that I want to make is that in putting forth our corporate tax proposal, OBA was attempting to bridge the gap between those who wanted to raise taxes during this down economy and those who opposed any tax increases at all. Many business groups that did not officially support the OBA package had indicated that they would oppose it but not fund a referendum campaign.
In other words, we offered legislators an opportunity to head off what is guaranteed to be a brutal battle between the two big coalitions that seem to relish in these fights. In spite of our best efforts, legislative leadership chose to move forward with no support from the business community. This all but guaranteed that the tax increases would be put to the voters. History, polling and the 11th hour effort to change the rules on the referendum process indicate that the tax increases passed by the legislators most likely will not stand.
Who will be the loser in all of this? Oregon schools and universities most definitely will pay the price along with those of us who strive to build a constructive relationship between the business community, elected officials and the labor community.
Our mission: “Engaging Oregon businesses – large and small, urban and rural – to find collaborative solutions that make our state a great place to live and work.”
I can’t say it any better and I truly believe that our efforts on this front during this crisis have lived up to our progressive mission. To learn more about OBA go to our website at OBA-online.org.