Yesterday morning, Republicans in the Oregon House and their allies in the corporate lobby held a hearing on several bills that would lower taxes on capital gains, which would be a windfall for large corporations and the rich.
One of the bills, HB 3050, would create a special half-off deal for taxes on capital gains—the wealth that’s accumulated when someone sells stocks or shares in a business.
So, while the rest of us pay about 9% on most of our income, stock market speculators would pay half that rate. In other words, the rich would get preferential tax treatment, while middle-class families and small businesses pick up the tab.
At a time when corporations are making record profits, but the state is struggling just to keep our schools open, we have to ask: What would this great bargain for the rich cost our schools and critical services?
According to our estimates (based on projections compiled by the Legislative Revenue Office) HB 3050 would cost the state around $2.25 billion between now and 2017. That’s the equivalent of cutting 148 days of school over the next seven years.
And for what conceivable benefit? The proponents of the bills claim that Oregon’s tax rates send a flood of rich people and companies to Washington, but they offer no evidence. The corporate lobbyists—including lobbyists from Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon Business Council, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and Public Affairs Council (Mark Nelson’s firm)--didn’t present a single estimate of the number of jobs that would be created, nor any evidence of companies who would move here if only our capital gains tax rates were lower.
In fact, several of the lobbyists gave examples of business owners in the state who regularly bought and sold businesses despite the capital gains tax—completely undercutting their own argument.
The bottom line: These are the same lobbyists making the same arguments they made during the Measures 66 and 67 campaign. They were wrong then, and they’re wrong now.
These lobbyists—now operating under the name of “The Oregon Committee”—claimed then that businesses and rich people would flee the state if the measures passed, but the exact opposite happened. Scores of businesses have moved or expanded in Oregon since 2009. Our employment figures have improved remarkably. And venture capital into startup companies has surged.
So, the corporate lobbyists backing these special tax breaks for the rich either a.) don’t know what they’re talking about, or b.) are simply trying to scaremonger their way into special tax breaks.
What can you do? Email the Co-Chairs of the House Revenue Committee and tell them that we shouldn't be giving more tax breaks to corporations and the rich when we're struggling just to keep our schools open and our seniors healthy. The Co-Chairs are Rep. Phil Barnhart (D-Central Lane and Linn Counties), who has worked to hold the line on tax credits, and Rep. Vicki Berger (R-Salem).