This morning, Governor Kitzhaber announced that he will be calling the Oregon Legislature into special session in one week, on December 17th.
Why? So far, he's not saying. He's expected to make an announcement at 11 a.m.
Of course, the special session will happen under the old Legislature - in which there is still a 30-30 tie in the House and Bruce Hanna and Arnie Roblan are still the co-Speakers.
Maybe he just wants to make sure all the losers earn their final month's check.
Of course, with just one week to Christmas plans, legislators will have plenty of incentive to keep things tidy and avoid prolonging things much.
Update: 10:54am (Carla Axtman) Nigel Jaquiss at Willamette Week is reporting that the session has to do with "statutory changes that will promote job retention and creation at Nike". The shoe company's world headquarters is in Washington County.
Jeff Mapes is reporting on Twitter that the session will be about a major company planning a significant expansion--looking for "tax stability".
Update 11:10am: (Carla Axtman) Governor Kitzhaber is calling the special session on Friday, December 14th. Nike is "ready to commit to a significant expansion". With a potential economic impact of 12,000 jobs and billions in dollars driving the economic expansion. Nike wants a commitment from the legislature that they won't be changing tax rules. Kitzhaber is proposing an economic investment act that would allow the governor to enter into an agreement with any company that creates at least 500 jobs and that would invest at least $500 million into the state.
Nike is prepared to sign an agreement now, Kitzhaber says, if Oregon will commit to not changing the tax picture in Oregon. He says there is a sense of urgency around completing this deal--and Nike is working to get this done as soon as possible. They are being courted by other states and Kitzhaber says he wants to keep them in Oregon. The expansion is for operations--and Kitzhaber says he doesn't have the details on where the expansion will take place.
Bottom line: Kitzhaber wants the governor to have authority to directly work with a company in order to provide them with special tax breaks/incentives to get them to stay or enter the state.
Update 1:05pm: (Kari Chisholm) I just spoke with a representative from the Governor's office, and have some additional detail to offer.
The important point from the Governor's perspective is that the agreement that the Governor would offer companies like Nike would only relate to the way that income taxes are calculated -- the single-sales factor. The agreement would not preclude the Legislature (or the people) from raising tax rates, nor would it preclude the Legislature (or the people) from creating a new tax. Nor does it authorize the Governor to offer up any new tax breaks or exemptions to these companies.
Rather, the proposal would simply allow the Governor to guarantee companies that make substantial investments that they can count on the current method of calculating incomes taxes for a set period of time, even if the Legislature changes it for everyone else.
To be sure, the "single sales factor" is somewhat controversial - and has been discussed at length here at BlueOregon over the years. It's a big deal for companies in Oregon - like Nike, Intel, Columbia Sportswear - that are headquartered here, but sell their wares globally. So, it's no surprise that these folks would want a commitment of some stability in the way that their taxes are calculated.
Now, I happen to think the single-sales factor is somewhat problematic. But I can also understand why a company looking to make a billion-dollar investment here would want to know that the tax structure they're operating under is going to stay in place for a five- or seven-year period after they make that investment.
Obviously, the devil will be in the details. So, as always, stay tuned.