Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

It’s a spending problem

From the Capitol

As I write this, the Legislative Revenue Office has released its report on the forecast of Oregon’s tax revenues.  The new forecast shows a far better picture than an estimate released in March.

Between personal income taxes and corporate taxes, the forecast suggests revenues in the current biennium coming in at $833 million higher than the earlier prediction. Thus as I’ve said in these pages and elsewhere for as long as I’ve been in office: Oregon doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.  Last month, Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1528, which blocked a tax cut for some Oregon businesses. The change meant an estimated $245 million would reach state coffers this biennium—money not accounted for in the March forecast. This bill also infuriated my fellow Republicans and caused friction amongst the majority Democratic legislators when Gov. Brown called a special session earlier this week to pass a far smaller tax break. The state’s latest revenue forecast, released recently, shows personal income tax revenues for the 2017-19 biennium stand to come in $555 million above initial forecasts. That’s more than enough to trigger Oregon’s unique “kicker” provision, which doles money back to taxpayers when taxes come in at more than 2 percent above estimates. Paying out a kicker has becoming something of a tradition in Oregon, as tax revenues continually outpace state economist’s projections.

In 2015, the state announced a $402 million kicker. In 2017, it was $464 million. Taxpayers might be in for a far larger refund next year. The new forecast also suggests Oregon might be on pace to have a record amount of budgetary reserves on hand, nearly $1.8 billion between the state’s Rainy Day Fund, Education Stability Fund and other unspent money. House Republican Leader Rep. Mike McLane of Powell Butte said: “In their haste to pass SB 1528 earlier this year, Governor Brown and legislative Democrats apparently failed to recognize that by requiring small business to pay $245 million more in state income taxes, their actions could trigger the income tax kicker,” McLane wrote. “That scenario now appears more likely than not. If current projections hold, Oregonians are in line to receive $555 million of their money back from their state government. The irony escapes no one.” Indeed it is ironic.

As we ended the quarterly “Legislative Days” we were also informed that Gov. Brown and others in her party are looking to “fix” the property tax “inequality” in Oregon. If the majority party were to gain one seat in the House they could overturn Measures 5 and 50 which have held property taxes in check for 20 some years. What this state needs is real leadership from real leaders that understand how to budget properly.  Our kids, schools, veterans and homeless all need to be properly cared for and that is not happening even with record amounts of revenue. Oregon can do better. As always, I am honored to serve as your State Representative in House District 25 and look forward to hearing from you anytime.

(Bill Post represents House Dis- trict 25. He can be reached at 503- 986-1425 or via email at rep. bil- [email protected]