Reform Oregon's kicker law
Will "reform Oregon’s kicker law (which refunds state surpluses in excess of 2 percent of projected revenues to taxpayers). Before money goes back to taxpayers, it should first fill a reserve fund that will protect Oregonians from service cuts or tax increases during recessions. This is the most immediate way to ensure stable funding for education and other programs in the face of cyclical tax revenues."
A change in the kicker law, but not the one the governor promised
Updated: Thursday, July 7th, 2011 | By Ryan Kost
There's nothing much more politically sensitive in Oregon than the state's kicker law. You know, that quirky policy that sends state surpluses back to taxpayers whenever state economists underestimate the money coming from state taxes by more than 2 percent?
Still, Gov. John Kitzhaber pledged to take on that sacred cow during the 2010 campaign season. He told voters that he'd rework the law so that before the state cut millions of checks, some of that surplus would go into a reserve fund to help Oregonians out during tough times.
"This is the most immediate way to ensure stable funding for education and other programs in the face of cyclical tax revenues,” he wrote in a position paper on his campaign website.
The plan snagged two advocates during the 2011 legislative session: Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, and Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, who tried to shop the legislation around. In an attempt to sweeten the pot for reluctant Republicans, they opted to tie the kicker reform to a reduction of the state's capital gains tax rate.
In mid-May, the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes reported that the duo had "projections showing the state would save more in rainy day funds than it would lose in capital gains."
But even that didn't seem to be enough. Just as the Senate seemed to be poised to vote on the legislation, "Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, parked the two bills in the Rules Committee after hearing they were unlikely to pass the House,” Mapes reported.
Kitzhaber told Mapes in May that the issue could come up during the February session, but both Burdick and Morse said there would likely be even less political will to make that vote next year. Elections, after all, will be right around the corner.
The kicker didn't get completely ignored. A bill that converted the rebate from a check to a tax credit received enough support to pass both chambers.
Tha's a mere tweak, not the reform the governor and others championed For now, this promise has Stalled.
The Oregonian, "Kitzhaber, businesses applaud successes,” June 30, 2011
The Oregonian, "Kicker duo can"t find allies,” May 21, 2011
The Oregonian, "Kicker may go from check to credit,” May 25, 2011
John Kitzhaber, "Jobs for today. Jobs for tomorrow,” 2010
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