Carrying the Revenue Package on the House Floor
Session will come to a close in the next few days. We only have a few budgets and bills left to consider. By now you may have heard that the Governor vetoed the Education Budget and the legislature voted to override that veto. Voting on budgets during these tough economic times is not easy. We all would like to be able to better support education, public safety, and human services and we all have different opinions on the best way to accomplish that goal. My public career started when I became dismayed over massive cuts to education. While I think the Education Budget is too low, I voted to override the veto to put kids first. Watch my Floor Speech on the Education Budget below. As the Revenue Chair I also worked to raise revenue to prevent further cuts to education, public safety, and human services (94% of the General Fund). My Legislative Report below further describes that work.
June 30th-Last day of session. We may end earlier, but going past this deadline is unlikely as it would require two-thirds of the members on both the House and Senate to suspend the rules to extend the session.
View My Speech on the Education Budget:
The speech was a response to Republican speakers who claimed there were reserve funds in accounts that could be used for education. Not true.
The end of the session is near and balancing the budget is on everyone's mind. Budget cuts of over $2 billion and strategic use of reserve and federal funds will close part of the gap. As Chair of the Revenue Committee I have spent a significant portion of my time this session working with colleagues and stakeholders to develop a supplemental revenue package to help ease the pain of cuts to services for our most vulnerable citizens. HB 3405 and HB 2649 raise $733 million through judicious and fair tax increases on corporations and the wealthiest two-and-a-half percent of taxpayers.
Today, corporations are responsible for only 6% of our General Fund revenue; Oregon families pay the other 94%. Two-thirds of the corporations in Oregon pay the $10 minimum tax which has not been increased since 1931. HB 3405 increases the minimum tax to $150 for all businesses and implements graduated increases on C-Corps with Oregon sales higher than $500,000. The bill also increases the tax rate on profits above $250,000 by 1.3% for the next two years. With the exception of corporations with profits over $10 million, this rate gradually decreases back to the current 6.6% by 2013. If adopted, Oregon's overall state business taxes will rank fourth-lowest instead of third-lowest in the nation. Oregon businesses benefit both directly and indirectly from the infrastructure and services the state provides, whether it's by providing an educated workforce or by maintaining the transportation and utility infrastructure that they rely on to do business. It is only fair they help pay for these services. Furthermore, larger corporations should pay their fair share and we should shield Oregon's small businesses as much as possible because they will be key players in Oregon's economic recovery.
Unless you are fortunate enough to be one of the 39,000 people in Oregon whose taxable income is $125,000 filing individually or $250,000 filing jointly, your Oregon personal income taxes will not go up. HB 2649 temporarily raises tax rates 1.8% on taxable income above $250,000 and 2% on income above $500,000 for 2009-2011. Let me give you an example. A household with taxable income over $400,000 a year or $33,333 a month (yes, that is over $30K every month!) would only pay an additional $212 each month in taxes. We also plan to phase out federal tax deductions and reduce schedule A deductions for the same income brackets. Finally, the package allows anyone claiming unemployment benefits to exclude $2400 from their taxable income, consistent with the federal tax code for 2009, bringing much needed relief to many out of work Oregonians.
Oregonians have flooded my office with emails because they are horrified by the proposed cuts to schools, human services and public safety. I am too. We passed these revenue raising measures to ensure those cuts will not be $733 million worse. Unless you want more teachers to lose their jobs, more school days cut, college tuition to go up, more seniors without vital services, more prisons closing and more prisoners released back onto the streets, OREGON NEEDS THIS REVENUE. Most people reading this report will be unaffected by these changes, which will make our tax system more equitable. We have an obligation to support our struggling families and need your support to avoid making a bad situation even worse.
Bills of Interest
HB2414-Reforms language on ballots to clarify what a vote on a referendum measure means. Referendums are rare, but each time they come up I get hundreds of questions on what a yes or no vote means. This bills works to clarify that problem by asking voters if they would like to overturn the law the Legislature passed. -In Ways and Means
HB2009 & HB2116-Health Care Bills will cover 80,000 children and another 35,000 adults under the Oregon Health Plan, resulting in lower health care costs for Oregonians. A post-session report will discuss this topic. -Awaiting Signature from Governor
HB2189-Protects Home buyers by requiring mortgage brokers to register loan originators with the Department or Consumer and Business Services so they can ensure education standards are met and background checks have been passed. -Passed the House and is onto the Senate
As usual here are links to the agenda's for my committees and the House Floor so you can check out what bills are coming up for my vote.
Environment & Water -Committee Closed
House Floor (Third Reading Notice)
You can track any measure by number here.