Ballot Measure Filed to Eliminate Corporate Kicker

As Oregonians receive record kicker checks, two political activists have filed an initiative petition to eliminate the corporate kicker.

From the Statesman-Journal:

Fresh after the state disbursed a record $1.07 billion in personal "kicker" tax rebates, a pair of activists want to end future rebates for corporations.

Sal Peralta and Travis Diskin said they're introducing a ballot initiative to amend the Oregon Constitution and eliminate corporate kickers.

Their initiative would not tamper with individual personal tax kickers.

They argue that the bulk of the corporate rebates get sent to out-of-state companies. Although their measure won't specify where the money should go, they say it could be better used to build up state reserves or spent on higher education, senior services and other priorities.

The catch: Peralta said it's getting too late to start an initiative for the 2008 ballot, because legal challenges can delay signature-gathering. Instead, the pair will start working on a measure for 2010, the next year when initiatives come up for a statewide vote.

"We're going to put this on the ballot, unless the Legislature takes some action in 2008 or 2009," Peralta said.

In a press release, Peralta and Diskin also discuss the unique structure of the campaign:

Over the next 2 years, we intend to collect 125,000 signatures through a paid and volunteer signature gathering effort.

... with a new twist.

Our campaign web site, KicktheKicker.Org, represents a new model of direct democracy. It is a membership-based campaign web site that serves as the hub of the volunteer portion of our political campaign.

Privileges of members (voting, activities) are based on the number of points accumulated through volunteer activism (karma).

These points may be expended on binding organizational votes and members may accumulate them to earn additional rank and privileges.

Read the rest. What do you think of the petition, and of the campaign?


  • Travis Diskin (unverified)

    To clarify, the Statesman jumped the story before we filed.

    We file on Friday.

  • LT (unverified)

    Are you folks having a press conference in Salem when you file? Please give the details for those who might want to attend.

  • 18yearoldwithanopinion (unverified)

    When will the website be up, I tried to access it just now and my internet browser claims that the website doesn't exist.

  • (Show?)

    Fixed. It may take a few minutes for DNS to propegate. In the meantime, please try



  • BOHICA (unverified)
    Over the next 2 years, we intend to collect 125,000 signatures through a paid and volunteer signature gathering effort.

    If I am asked to sign a ballot measure petition, I always ask if the gatherer is paid. If they are I will not sign. Just goes against my SNOB upbringing.

  • zilfondel (unverified)

    Besides 37/49, this has the potential to make a huge difference in Oregon.

    The ability for our government to fund itself adequately - especially the schools - is absolutely critical to keep our infrastructure and social services funded. We're in really sad shape right now!

  • moderate D (unverified)

    Zilf - When companies that actually make enough money to pay Taxes and then get no refund from the Gov't because they somehow didn't spend it all, even with increases in Gov't spending that exceed population and inflation growth for over 15 years in a row now, these companies will leave and there will be less money in the first place for Gov't programs. And less jobs and more people therefore in need.

    Peralta thinks robbing peter to pay paul is going to help his campaign? ha.

  • oregonj (unverified)

    Moderate D - Any time you get a chance, I would be interested in seeing your evidence that profitable companies leave Oregon because they do not receive a kicker.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Instead of further devisivness, why can't an initiative process come up with a better funding /budgetting formula that would eliminate the need for a kicker?

  • (Show?)

    The notion that companies will leave Oregon because we repeal the corporate kicker is asinine. Neither Wal-Mart nor any of the other top-30 corporations that take this money out of state or overseas would not want to do business because we hold them to taxes that they have already agreed to pay.

    Others have suggested that consumers are the ones who really pay these taxes in the form of higher costs of goods and services. If that's true, why would Oregon consumers want to see money that they have already paid for these products leave the state?

  • Robert Harris (unverified)

    On the point regarding corporations passing on taxes to consumers, Sal is absolutely right and I've made this argument before. Whatever tax costs businesses pass on is based on their current tax liability, not on what it may be if they receive a kicker. So getting rid of the corp. kicker will have no impact on consumer prices.

    One other idea here is for the Legislator to ASAP pass a statute specifying where the corporate kicker would go should it ever be repealed. If it does this prior to 2010, opponents would be much less effective in their campaign against the measure. Maybe even specify in that legislation that half of the corp kicker gets added to the personal kicker. (Conservatives should love that because its just a refund of the excess taxes passed along to the consumers by businesses who were just passing on their tax load)

    I'd think that Sal's measure could get a lot of support if people knew that by passing it they could increase their personal kicker. And there's good sound republican/conservative economic reasoning supporting that shift.

  • DanS (unverified)


    I thought you did a very nice job of discussing the topic with Lars yesterday. I may not agree with your position, but you came across well spoken and reasonable.

    Obviously the Kicker doesn't mean squa to the mega companies such as Walmart or Boeing.

    However, these companies didn't become successful by blindly making decisions on where to add new facilities or which facilities to expand. They will notice what we do, and it may impact decisions at the margin.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks Sal & Travis!

    Kurt, can you spell out what you think such an initiative should look like?

  • davidg (unverified)

    Isn't this proposal a case of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped? The huge 2007 kicker inspired this proposal, but there is unlikely to be a future kicker anywhere in the range of what happened in 2007. Even if adopted, this proposal will likely have only minimal revenue effect in the future.

    Do you really want to do something effective for the future? You say in the article that the bulk of the kicker goes to foreign corporations. What that fact tells us is that the bulk of corporate taxes in Oregon come from foreign corporations. If you want to get money from those corporations, then raise the corporate tax rate. Presently, corporations pay 6.6% tax on corporate income. Individuals pay 9%. Equalize the rates. What could be simpler?

    One of the so-called justifications for the lower corporate tax rate is that it prevents double taxation of income when the corporation distributes dividends to its shareholders. So, give the corporation an income tax deduction for any dividends it distributes - then there is no double taxation. But for any undistributed income, tax it at the same rate as individuals pay.

  • ligedog (unverified)

    When can we abolish the kicker entirely?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Many businesses have lamented the state of infrastructure in Oregon. Certainly, they prefer to have others pay for what they desire, but please understand that Oregon is now a low-tax state for large corporations. This initiative can do much to improve Oregon for all of us and will not chase away business.

  • Miles (unverified)

    However, these companies didn't become successful by blindly making decisions on where to add new facilities or which facilities to expand. They will notice what we do, and it may impact decisions at the margin.

    Dan S, as far as I know Oregon is the only state with a corporate kicker (or personal kicker, for that matter). So repealing the corporate kicker will simply put us on equal footing with every other state. Plus, given the unpredictable nature of the kicker, no corporation would ever build it into their tax assumptions. They will assume they'll pay exactly what our tax rate is -- if they get a million back later, it's an unexpected windfall.

  • andy (unverified)

    I'd be more interested in a proposal that eliminated corporate income taxes for Oregon businesses. That would probably create more revenue than keeping the corporate kicker. But you have to be really progressive to think outside of the "more taxes" box.

  • Kevin (unverified)

    Andy- How exactly does eliminating Corporate income taxes for Oregon Businesses increase revenue? It does not follow that cutting taxes will increase tax revenue. This model has been tried before, and it does not work to increase Revenue from taxes. It only works to increase the bottom line of the corporations who no longer pay taxes. There is little incentive to put that money back into the economy as opposed to requiring them to do something productive or benefitting the public good. so tell me how does cutting taxes increase revenue? The "cut corporate taxes" model is unreliable and ineffective at best. So tell me how does cutting taxes increase revenue?

  • bizteach (unverified)

    Why does the initiative seek only to abolish the CORPORATE kicker? Corporate taxes only account for about 5-6 percent of General Fund revenues. For the 2006 tax year, corporate tax revenues were only a little over $442 million. The bigger debate seems to be about the individual kicker. It might be interesting to find out whether or not a majority of Oregonians favor doing away with it.

    As an alternative, I agree with Kurt about finding a better mechanism for triggering the individual kicker. At present, the state economist has to estimate biennial revenues within 2% (1% per year). This is asking a little much in an economy that fluctuates as much as Oregon's. A 6% leeway (3% per year) would make more sense.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Even though the concept that lower tax rates increases tax revenue does not have much statistical support, Republicans cling to it because, well, what acceptable reason can they give for continued reductions in the tax load on the wealthy? And do not be mistaken, taxes not collected from corporations end up, for the most part, in the accounts of wealthy people who own the stocks and bonds of those corporations.

    Trickle Down, Supply Side, whatever it's called, is Voodoo Economics.

  • Rich Land (unverified)
    <h2>Maybe not eliminate the individual but change the calculation back to tax after credits instead of tax before credits. Wonder how much went to California residents who paid zero Oregon tax because their credits eliminated their entire tax bill...yet they still received a kicker check.</h2>
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