Swift action in special session can bring jobs, support broadly held Oregon priorities

By Representatives Val Hoyle (D-West Eugene) and Jules Bailey (D-Portland). Rep. Bailey is the Co-vice chair of the House Revenue Committee and serves as Deputy Whip in the House Democratic Caucus. Rep. Hoyle is the House Democratic Leader.

Sometimes, the right policy has to take precedence over the right process. You don’t always get to choose when opportunity knocks, but you do get to choose how quickly you open the door.

Like most BlueOregon readers, we don’t believe a special session is ever ideal, but it is the Governor’s choice to call one. We are planning a 2013 legislative session full of legislation to create jobs, invest in schools, and prioritize the services Oregon families count on. But Oregon has been presented with an opportunity for job creation now, and we believe we can capitalize in a way that is consistent with Oregon values.

Nike, one of only two Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Oregon, is planning an expansion that will create over 12,000 jobs in Oregon and two billion dollars in investment. Nike is not asking for a tax break of any kind. They’re asking for a commitment to continue a policy that has been in place for nearly a decade. This has no bearing on Nike’s tax rates. We are committing only to preserve the single sales factor, the basis by which taxes are calculated. Looking at it another way, it’s like telling a taxpayer that while we may change your income tax rate, we won’t change how your income is calculated for a period of time.

So, on Friday, the Oregon Legislature will meet in a special session to consider a bill that will create good paying jobs and bring in additional money to our public school classrooms and other critical services.

But at the same time, House Democrats will push for side boards including additional accountability and transparency that will ensure that businesses are living up to their end of the bargain and achieving their job creation targets. We will insist on a fair and open process that gives Oregonians a chance to weigh in on the policy considerations that matter to them, while moving swiftly to adopt a bill that will help one of Oregon’s premier home-grown employers put more people to work.

The reality is that this must happen now because time is of the essence. Nike is looking to expand in Oregon right away and a number of other states are trying to recruit them, so we needed to be nimble and responsive. The Oregon Constitution requires that any legislation dealing with revenue takes effect ninety-one days after the adjournment the session in which a bill passes. Waiting one month would mean more than seven months of delayed action. Passing the bill now will allow it to take effect in April. Waiting until the start of the 2013 Legislative session, which will end in June, would push expansion back to September or later.

In this economic climate, we can’t afford to wait that long to put people to work and begin creating the funds to invest in our area schools. We can’t afford any delay that might allow critical economic development activity to slip away.

Let’s be clear- at the end of the special session, Oregon’s tax rates will be completely unchanged. All our action will do will send a message to Oregon businesses like Nike that they can count on some certainty in the coming years. No tax breaks, no incentives, no guarantee of any given tax rate -- just the stability needed to begin to expand facilities and hire new workers.

While we take this opportunity to support a large Oregon employer, we continue our efforts to support small local businesses, and that remains a priority for House Democrats in 2013. In the coming session we will take a number of steps to ensure that small businesses have access to the tools they need to grow, hire, and take part in the steady economic recovery in Oregon.

No, the process isn’t what we’d like, and we believe Oregon families face other critical challenges. We expect the Governor and the Legislature to bring the same urgency and focus to investing in schools, providing health care and critical services, and protecting our environment as they have brought to this issue. But if we want to re-invest in our schools and support small businesses, we need strong economic growth with high levels of transparency and public accountability. If we have our way, on Friday, each of these goals will be achieved.

Our intention in the days before the special session is to have a process that highlights Oregon’s strong business climate, demonstrates responsiveness to the needs of employers small and large, and maintains Oregon’s commitment to transparency and accountability. By acting quickly, we will deliver results on the priorities that Oregonians value most. Then we will continue that work in 2013, prioritizing good jobs, strong schools, and fairness for Oregon families.

Comments

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    Thanks for your leadership Reps Hoyle and Bailey!

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    A great summary and explanation of what is being proposed. Good job!

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    This is crap, Jules. The single sales exception is already bad policy and Nike is forcing you to pre-emptively take the possibility of reform off the table in case the next legislature wants to raise taxes. You're hamstringing future corporate tax policy -- and we will definitely have to choose between working folks and the corporations -- and ceding your constitutional responsibility to the governor in a lame duck session.

    "In this economic climate, we can’t afford to wait that long to put people to work and begin creating the funds to invest in our area schools. We can’t afford any delay that might allow critical economic development activity to slip away." This is the Shock Doctrine. These are economic scare tactics. Stop this anti-democratic nonsense. You know better.

    There's nothing here urgent enough that we can't wait until the next session. Don't bargain your credibility away on this nonsense.

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    To the extent that you are using terms like "ceding your constitutional responsibility" and "anti-democratic", your comment makes no sense.

    The governor has the constitutional authority to call a special session. The legislature has the constitutional authority to allow the governor to negotiate this kind of deal. And calling a legislative body into session to vote on something is the exact opposite of something that is "anti-democratic".

    With respect to the public policy involved... welcome to the new normal with respect to dealing with massive corporations. The fact is that companies that take in billions in revenue and employ thousands of workers have a great deal of leverage over state & local governments, and if Oregon doesn't want to sit down at the negotiating table with Nike, jurisdictions in other states will be more than happy to fill that void.

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      Anti-democratic = giving the responsibility to a body in a lame duck session under the guise of emergency, where many of the members won't be accountable. Just because there's some sort of weak process doesn't mean it's democracy. Even proponents acknowledge this.

      Ceding Constitutional Responsibility = giving the governor power to make these special deals with giant corporations that will supercede general tax policy. Read the proposal.

      "With respect to the public policy involved... welcome to the new normal with respect to dealing with massive corporations. The fact is that companies that take in billions in revenue and employ thousands of workers have a great deal of leverage over state & local governments, and if Oregon doesn't want to sit down at the negotiating table with Nike, jurisdictions in other states will be more than happy to fill that void."

      I'm glad that people are running openly on their neoliberal BS. You might accept the end of representative democracy and cheer the coming of open corporate rule, ummm... I don't know what to say. You obviously haven't thought about the implications, or yeah... we'll just leave it at that. I'm not willing to join you in your capitulation.

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        With respect to process...The governor has the constitutional authority to call the legislature into emergency session for any purpose. I haven't seen anyone other than you imply that calling such a session is undemocratic or outside the scope of the Governor's authority.

        With respect to policy... What you see as capitulation, I see as a clear signal to businesses around the world that Oregon is a place they should consider as they look to build new facilities and hire new workers. Your position appears to be that the governor should not have even the limited authority contained in this bill to negotiate with multinational corporations for the purposes of encouraging them to engage in capital construction that will result in the hiring of a minimum 500 new workers here in Oregon, but that instead these matters should be handled by part time legislators. Yes, clearly we disagree.

        Large majorities in this state favor providing tax incentives to businesses that engage in capital construction that results in that business hiring new workers. I have conducted 2 surveys in that last 3 years that included that very question and both times found strong support among a broad spectrum of Oregonians for that kind of public policy.

        Personally, I am glad that we have a governor who is willing to lead. I'd like to see more of this kind of leadership and vision from elected officials in both parties.

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