Invest in Oregon has come together to highlight our greatest budget needs & identify opportunities for us to invest in a better Oregon.
Our state legislators are facing a unique moment of opportunity.
Since the mid-90’s, Oregon has been faced with a series of seemingly impossible decisions. The country’s lowest corporate taxes combined with dried-up revenue streams have put our state legislators in the position of needing to cut services time and again, often pitting the needs of one group of Oregonians against the needs of another group. These false dichotomies—kids vs. seniors, childcare vs. college funding, students vs. retirees, urban vs. rural—have created large class sizes, thousand-person waiting lists, and deep economic and cultural rifts in our state.
After years of having only bad options from which to choose, it seemed that in 2015 the economic recovery had finally worked its way to Oregon, yet not all have benefited. The economy still has problems, the largest corporations and the wealthiest Oregonians have benefited the most from the recovery, underemployment persists, and wages for working families are still lower today than they were 10 years ago. But, our economy is growing, unemployment is now at its lowest level since 2007, and companies are hiring.
And just when it seemed that the economic recovery would put us on track to begin to fill budget holes, Oregon’s uniquely arcane tax policy—the “Kicker”—is now expected to kick, setting our revenue back $350 million or more. The lion’s share of the Kicker will benefit higher income Oregonians residing in the Portland Metro region.
This $350 million budget hole, combined with a tax structure that has the lowest corporate taxes in the country, puts Oregon state legislators back in the same position of needing to make lose-lose choices: which of the deep cuts would they keep?
It does not have to be this way – we do not need to accept the shortest school years, threats to quality care for our seniors, the longest waiting lists for childcare, or whole communities stuck at the economic margins. A diverse coalition called Invest in Oregon has formed to highlight our greatest budget needs and identify the opportunities in our current tax structure and budget for all of us to invest in a better Oregon.
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