The liberals in Salem want to spend $191 million more even after growing the state budget by 13% in the last session. And they can’t even wait for the next session. No, they will be in special session on Monday, Sept 30th to try to pass five bills. This is a all too stereotypical portrait of taxing and spending.
As of Sunday the 29th, only three of the rough “draft” “legislative concepts” were posted to the state website (#1,2&4). So what is the rush that the floor session begins without advance posting of the bills? Could it have anything to do with the Sept 30th deadline for funding to be in place in order to expect federal assistance with the Columbia River Crossing megaproject light rail and bridge project? Rumors abound that Governor Kitzhaber wants to move forward with this light rail project no matter the risk to Oregon’s bond rating and Oregon taxpayers. They have not been forthcoming as to whether this project will be worked on in the special session. Update: CRC was not part of the Special Session on Sept 30th.
What they are talking about is five bills in various stages of draft (including unwritten) as a grand bargain at the behest of Governor Kitzhaber. The Governor threatens to veto them unless all five are passed. Update Bills are: SB861, SB862, SB863, HB5101, HB3601 The are now being posted to the legislative web and have had their first reading in their respective floor.
They plan to raise $191 million in a variety of ways including:
- The corporate tax would be increased to 7.6% for all profits over $1 million (currently it is for all profits over 10 million
- The personal exemption credit which is $183 for each taxpayer and each dependent, would not be available to those who make more than $100,000 or a couple making more than $200,000
- The tobacco tax would be increased by 10 cents per pack. Update $0.13 per pack
- Change the medical deduction for seniors to a subtraction so that seniors who do not itemize deductions can still subtract their medical expenses (unless they make over $100,000 then they can only subtract those that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income). They will be phasing in a change from this being available at age 62 to it being available at age 66. Currently, it is available at age 62 to all incomes for all medical expenses if deductions are itemized.
Their spending plan totaling $191,000,000:
- State School Fund/ODE $100,000,000.
- Oregon University System/DAS $25,000,000
- Community College Support/CCWD $15,000,000
- Children and Young Adult Mental Health/OHA $5,800,000
- Adult Mental Health Services/OHA $4,200,000
- Oregon Project Independence (Senior Programs)/DHS $10,000,000
- Elderly and Disabled Transit/ODOT $5,000,000
- Emergency Board-Senior Services $26,000,000
Some of the PERS changes include:
- No longer using employer-provided insurance benefits as a contributing basis
- Not allowing future legislators into PERS but instead providing a 401K policy to reduce the conflict of interest.
- Reduce the PERS cost of living adjustment from 2% annually to 1.25% for the first $60,000 in benefits and $0.25% on benefits above $60,000 This is a bit of a simplification on this.
- PERS beneficiaries cannot use income obtained through having committed (and having been convicted of) a felony toward their PERS calculation.
Other parts of the five bills include:
- Reserving for statewide action only the authority to ban genetically modified organisms. This is to prevent counties from creating their own bans although Jackson County would be exempted from this.
- The Oregon Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would be increased from 6% to 8% of the Federal EITC. As a tax credit, it can refund more money to low income tax filers than had been withheld during the year.
- Allowing owners of partnerships and S-Corps whose income is less than $5 million to use federal Schedule E (Supplemental Income and Loss Tax Liability). This is simplified. There will be some cost containment details for this one.
The five bills:
SB 861: PERS cost of living adjustment changes
SB862: changes calculations for public employees benefit
SB863: reserves to the authority of the state the regulation of agriculture (GMOs)
HB5101: appropriates money to schools
HB3601: changes corporate tax rate
We should not sit back and watch our legislators continue to tax more and spend more. Former Americans For Prosperity Director Karla Kay Edwards explains the importance of citizens getting involved in the legislative process through the Oregon Citizen Lobby. Please consider attending the Oregon Citizen’s Lobby War Room Monday September 30th in room 167A. A new legislative committee was formed for the special session. Contact them to make your wishes known:co-chair Sen Peter Courtney, 503-986-1600 Sen.PeterCourtney@state.or.us
co-chair Representative Tina Kotek, 503-986-1200 Rep.TinaKotek@state.or.us
co-vice-chair Senator Ted Ferrioli, 503-986-1950 Sen.TedFerrioli@state.or.us
co-vice-chair Representative Mike McLane, 503-986-1455 Rep.MikeMcLane@state.or.us
co-vice-chair Representative Chris Garrett, 503-986-1438 Rep.ChrisGarrett@state.or.us
Representative Julie Parrish, 503-986-1437 Rep.JulieParrish@state.or.us
Senator Ginny Burdick, 503-986-1712 Sen.GinnyBurdick@state.or.us
Senator Richard Devlin, 503-986-1719 Sen.RichardDevlin@state.or.us
Senator Jackie Winters, 503-986-1710 Sen.JackieWinters@state.or.us
Representative Phil Barnhart, 503-986-1411 Rep.PhilBarnhart@state.or.us
Committee administrator is Beth Patrino