The Intel deal and the Ghost of Tom McCall

Chuck Sheketoff

Oregon Governor Tom McCall famously once said:

"Oregon is demure and lovely, and it ought to play a little hard to get. And I think you'll all be just as sick as I am if you find it is nothing but a hungry hussy, throwing herself at every stinking smokestack that's offered."

I got a feeling of Tom McCall’s spirit when I read the following statement by Michael Madigan, Speaker of the Illlinois House of Representatives, denouncing corporate pay-to-play — a statement made right around the same time that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber was inking a sweetheart deal with Intel. Madigan said this about corporate tax break legislation:

We must resist the temptation to cave to corporate officials’ demands every time they impose a deadline for payment in exchange for remaining in Illinois, and end the case-by-case system of introducing and debating legislation whenever a corporation is looking for free money from Illinois taxpayers. This practice creates an unsettling and worrisome appearance of some new kind of corporate pay-to-play, which should be troubling to other business leaders and their shareholders, public officials and Illinois taxpayers. We should instead take a more long-term approach to helping all job-creating businesses in Illinois thrive and succeed, including thoroughly reviewing how we currently provide incentives to big corporations. ...

The companies requesting these taxpayer-funded breaks currently pay little to no corporate income tax to the state, contributing little or nothing to help fund the very services from which they benefit significantly. Meanwhile, middle-class families continue struggling through a recession and job loss. So I find it very difficult to support tax giveaways for corporate CEOs and millionaire shareholders whose companies pay little in state taxes. I question our priorities when corporate handouts are demanded by companies that don’t pay their fair share while middle-class families and taxpayers face an increasing number of burdens. ...

Lost in the discussion of this topic is that without new revenue, these giveaways are only possible by making additional cuts to crucial programs that impact working men and women across Illinois. As more companies have begun seeking incentives from the state, the Illinois House has held hearings on developing criteria for how future incentives should be awarded – a new process that values the jobs preserved or created instead of the tax breaks granted, and acknowledges that for each incentive given, individual taxpayers will have to pay the difference. [Emphasis added.]

Any chance a new Tom McCall will rise up here in his beloved state of Oregon and support the middle class by taking on Oregon's corporate tax subsidies and loopholes?


Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at www.ocpp.org.

Comments

Video

connect with blueoregon