Dexter Fire Hall

Pleasant Hill Town Hall

University of Oregon Town Hall with Sen. Prozanski, Rep. Beyer, Rep. Holvey, and Rep. Hoyle

Sodaville Town Hall with a turn out of over 5% the population of the town.

(Population of Sodaville = 303)

Brownsville Town Hall

Lane Community College Town Hall with Sen. Morrisette, Sen. Prozanski, Rep. Beyer, Rep. Hoyle, and Rep. Nathanson


Tomorrow I am hosting a Town Hall in Creswell.  I hope that many of you can join me to discuss the upcoming session and get your questions answered on the Tax Measures you will be voting on in January.  The details for that meeting are in the side bar below.

Yesterday the Revenue Committee received the latest Revenue Forecast, were updated on the status of the Tax Amnesty Program, and discussed the Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC).  The Revenue Forecast in many ways was not surprising.  We have heard for sometime now that the downturn is bottoming out and that the recovery will be a jobless one.  Oregon's State Economist Tom Potowski reaffirmed prior estimates and forecasted revenues to decline another $30.3 million, bringing the total projected shortfall to $212.6 million for the 2009-11 biennium.  However, these numbers could change dramatically depending on whether voters approve Measures 66 & 67 on January 26, 2010.  The measures provide $733 million currently budgeted for education, health care and public safety.

The Tax Amnesty Bill we passed this year allowed individuals and companies who owed taxes in years before 2008 to correctly report their taxes due and make arrangements to pay. This amnesty program provides money we desperately need to continue funding services Oregonians rely on and help those who have been struggling with their taxes to catch up.  The bill nullified all penalties due under Oregon law for those who report themselves, which in some cases were more than the actual tax owed, and waived half the interest owed.  The deadline to file an application for the Tax Amnesty Program was November 19th, but those applicants have until January 19th to file their returns.   Already the program has brought in $10.6 million and looks like it is on track to hit and possibly exceed its projected goal of $16 million.

Mark Long from the Department of Energy discussed the new administrative rules the Dept. of Energy adopted to make BETC more efficient and less costly to taxpayers.  Two of the adopted provisions were in House Bill 2472 vetoed by the governor earlier this year.  The bill ended the 10% cost overrun which automatically approved a higher tax break for companies who exceeded the original cost estimate of their project, essentially providing an incentive to underestimate the size.  The bill also eliminated the ability of a company to break one project into smaller projects in order to receive multiple tax breaks and circumvent the cap on the amount of money they could receive.  These new rules get at the heart of the problem but the work is far from over.  Stay tuned!  Below you can read the Op - Ed I wrote on the BETC that was published in the Oregonian about a week ago.


Important Dates:

Town Hall Meetings to discuss 2010 February Special Session and Ask Your Questions about Measures 66 & 67! Details Below:

November 21, 2009
10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Creswell Community Center
99 South 1st, Creswell, OR
Open to the Public

January 9, 2010
9:30 am to 11:30 am
City Council Chambers
777 Pearl St # 105
Eugene, OR 97401
Joining Senators Edwards, Morrisette and Prozanski
and Representatives Beyer, Holvey, Hoyle, and Nathanson
Open to the Public

Deffered Maintenance Projects taking shape at LCC


Legislative Report

As the 2009 legislative session was drawing to a close, Oregon House Democrats passed a bill to curb tax credits to corporations. The cost of the credits in question -- the Business Energy Tax Credit, known as BETC -- had ballooned to an amount previously unforeseen. This bill was to be one of the final pieces of the budget-balancing plan designed to keep Oregon moving forward during a time of global economic crisis.

The Legislature had already enacted $2 billion in cuts, starting with our own legislative budget. We had taken advantage of federal stimulus and matching funds, keeping Oregonians' tax dollars here in the state and making them go further. We had established sunset dates for tax giveaways, creating an orderly review process to ensure Oregonians get what they pay for. And we passed some targeted revenue increases on big, largely out-of-state corporations and the wealthiest Oregonians in order to protect schools, health care and public safety.

At a time of legislative chaos in other states, we did our job. While legislators in California squabbled late into the year, unable to pass a budget, we balanced ours. While legislators in New York could not even establish a quorum, we adjourned early in one of the most productive legislative sessions on record. The choices we made were not easy, but they were responsible and fiscally prudent, and they protected Oregon today while setting up our state for a brighter future.

But there is another issue left unresolved, that of the BETC. The bill we passed to eliminate abuses and pare down costs was vetoed by the governor. I agree with the governor on many things, but on this issue we part ways.

While our efforts to spur the growth of green business in Oregon have seen successes, the cost of the BETC needs to be contained.

Think of the BETC and every other tax credit this way. Each additional taxpayer dollar that goes to the BETC is one that is taken away from schools. Each taxpayer dollar Wal-Mart gets by purchasing BETC credits is a dollar taken from health care for seniors. Each taxpayer dollar that goes to a corporation already in bankruptcy is a dollar taken from the state police patrolling our highways. We simply cannot afford to prioritize such generous and unfocused tax credits for corporations at a time when Oregonians face such daunting challenges.

That is why when the Legislature meets again in February, almost immediately after Oregonians vote in January's special election, we must return to this issue.

With the news that the initial and more costly estimates of the BETC were intentionally withheld from legislators, combined with the credit's skyrocketing costs, I'm committed to revisit the BETC to make sure that it works to further our state's ambitious green goals, but does so in a way that is fiscally responsible and does not harm education, health care and public safety. The record of good governance this legislature has established depends on it.

(Excerpted from my commentary in the Oregonian on November 11, 2009)