Governor Kate Brown has called for a special session of the Oregon Legislature for May 21. This is due to the signing of Senate Bill 1528. the $244 million increase in business taxes. Rather than giving this bill (which had bipartisan no votes) a veto, Governor Brown signed and then called for a one day special session to “fix” it.
The reality is, according to an Oregon Public Broadcasting news story: “The analysis of the tax cut Brown is proposing shows that few sole proprietorships would qualify for favorable tax rates extended to other pass-through businesses in 2013. Roughly 200,000 of Oregon’s sole proprietorships report positive income, but only about 13,000 of those pay any wages, which is a requirement of getting a better tax rate. Of those 13,000 businesses, only 9,000 filers report paying employees enough to qualify.”
This would be a special session but run like a regular session if the majority in charge do not adopt special rules for the special session to limit bills, amendments, prohibit minority reports, etc. If they don’t, then anything could happen. Also, by looking at the Legislative Concept (the potential bill) being proposed for this session, you’ll find that the “relating to clause” is “taxation.” That means anything “relating to taxation” can be stuffed into this bill. The sky is theoretically the limit on content of the bill. (Think a tax on soda. Coffee. Used cars. Each of those ideas have been discussed and drafted before.) And, again, depending on whether they adopt any special rules or not, other bills may be introduced in this session and not necessarily on taxes. Think gun legislation or other controversial topics.
As for the Legislative Concept itself (the potential bill) as noted above: It would help only 9,000 sole proprietors out of 276,000. That’s 3.4 percent. The tax relief for those 9,000 businesses would be $20 million in the first biennium. SB 1528 was a tax hike of $244 million. So with passage of this bill, it’s now only a $224 million tax increase!
I will gladly serve you in the Legislature as I have but this special session is a complete waste of our tax payer dollars and in fact could lead to bills that are not appropriate for a one day session. And I have just learned that in fact the governor’s office is now asking for 5-6 days for this special session. I want business taxes cut indeed but 3.4 percent of them? Not something we should be doing.
Lastly, I remind you that ballots for the primary election should be in your mail soon if not already and I do hope you vote. It’s the most important civic duty we have. Thank you for letting me serve you again this year.
(Bill Post represents House Dis- trict 25. He can be reached at 503- 986-1425 or via email at rep. bil- post@ oregonlegislature.gov.)