Business group urges legislative leadership to slow down

Published Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Oregon Business & Industry urged the Oregon Legislature to slow down in its rush to pass $2 billion in new taxes for education, and carefully weigh the impact of those new taxes and all of the other costly measures under consideration by the Legislature on the Oregon economy.

“We support making targeted investments in education this year,” said Scott Parrish, CEO of A-dec Industries in Newberg and chair of the OBI Board of Directors. “But by our count, the Legislature is looking at more than $5 billion in new taxes and fees this year, and that is too much.”

The Joint Committee on Student Success released its proposed tax framework on Thursday, April 11, and committee leadership have indicated they plan to send a completed bill to the floor by the end of next week.

The tax plan is based on a gross receipts tax, which OBI and more than 20 other business organizations oppose because of its pyramiding characteristics. In pyramiding the same product can get taxed multiple times before it reaches the end consumer, making the effective tax rate multiple times the published statutory rate. OBI worked with partners for more than a year on a different tax concept, which it presented to the Legislature as an alternative to a gross receipts tax well before the 2019 legislative session began. He said OBI is prepared to continue working with lawmakers.

“This is a very complex plan that the Legislature wants to rush through. In our view, something this big needs thorough study and broad vetting,” Parrish said. “Even more important is the total cost of everything they say they want pass this year. Legislative leadership wants us to look at this one proposal in isolation, but at the end of the day, we will live with the total cost of all of the measures they will enact.  Plain and simple, $5 billion is more than Oregonians can afford.”

Parrish said OBI also feels strongly that cost control, specifically PERS reform, must be part of any fiscal package enacted by the Legislature. Without reform, the rising cost of PERS will consume much of the new money over the next eight to 10 years, diminishing the ability to make lasting investments in Oregon classrooms.