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.