This week, legislators announced they will drop efforts to reform Oregon’s unfair and inadequate corporate tax structure. It’s a setback for Oregon’s school children, seniors and people with disabilities, whose interests took a backseat to corporate lobbyists aiming to keep their company’s taxes low.
But we won’t stop fighting. This week, we took the fight directly to the corporate lobbyists with actions all across the state.
Where we stand on revenue and budgets
This week, the Legislature passed a healthcare provider tax that will raise $550 million to fund Medicaid services. This is a big win that will take a major chunk out of the budget deficit. It will keep the Junction City State Hospital open and protect funding for Oregonians who get healthcare through the Oregon Health Plan.
With news that lawmakers cannot reach a deal on long-term corporate tax reform, some legislators are now setting their sights on repealing tax breaks that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Oregonians. Repealing the Schedule E tax breaks, as they’re called, would generate an additional $200 million to help cover the state’s budget deficit. For more information on the Schedule E tax breaks, see this helpful report from Our Oregon.
The next step in the legislative process is to write budgets for the major agencies and program areas. This is where the details really matter for SEIU 503 members, and we will be sure to keep you up to date as the work progresses.
Where we stand on corporate tax reform
With the news that the Legislature will not reform corporate taxes during this legislative session, we are left in the same place we started. Oregon’s corporate taxes will remain among the lowest in the country, and our state will continue struggling to adequately fund schools, healthcare, and other vital public services.
It’s incredibly frustrating to see some legislators put the interests of big, out-of-state corporations over the interests of our school children, seniors and people with disabilities. However, we remain committed to our principals: As long as corporate taxes are based on profits, they will always find a way to avoid paying their fair share.
We’re doing two things right now to move this conversation forward. First, we’re running a TV ad to keep pressure on the legislature. We must remain vigilant that no legislation moves forward that would balance the budget on our backs. Second, we will consider future options for reform, which includes 3 ballot measures filed earlier this month that would raise corporate taxes and require companies to disclose their state taxes so the public can see who is paying their share and who is not.
Public employee retirement plans
We remain hopeful that we can prevent any changes to PERS this session, despite dozens of hearings and a full-scale attack on our retirement by big corporate lobbyists. It appears as though we will succeed for now, but the PERS unfunded liability remains a budget problem the state must address.
This week, the House passed a measure to strengthen privacy for immigrant Oregonians by protecting their personal information and authorizing state agencies to choose not to disclose citizenship information to federal immigration authorities, except when required by law. It’s good policy, it follows federal law, and it will protect the civil and human rights or everyone who calls Oregon home.
Representative Diego Hernandez gave a moving speech on the house floor in support of the measure. It’s a must-watch.
On June 14, Governor Kate Brown signed the Rural Worker Protection Act into law. The law protects the right of workers in the private sector to join together in a union and fight for better wages and stronger benefits. With organizations like the ant-worker Freedom Foundation making inroads in Oregon, now is the perfect time to protect the rights of workers to stand together and fight for a better life.
The Stable Homes for All Families bill still needs your help if it’s going to move during this legislative session. Oregon’s affordable housing crisis is real. Just this month a 76-year-old woman was evicted from her home without cause. The legislation would end this practice of no-cause evictions and help build strong communities by keeping renters in stable housing. Please write your legislator today and ask them to vote YES on HB 2004.