If jobs were on your list of accomplishments for the recent Oregon legislature, don’t hold your breath. It’s estimated that the dismal performance of this past session produced one basic thing: taxes. That’s correct the legislature managed to raise taxes and business fees by $2 billion.
HB3405 is predicted to generate $261 million by increasing taxes on Oregon businesses and HB2649 increases Oregon income taxes to the highest in the country and is estimated to generate $472 million in new taxes. Combined with other tax increases passed, including a gas tax increase and a new hospital tax, new taxes and fees levied equal more than $2 billion during one of the worst economic declines in history.
Some legislators actually convinced themselves that raising the corporate income tax and increasing taxes on the wealthiest of Oregonians will help create jobs. How can they possibly believe that by putting more of a burden on business new jobs will be created?
And true to form, while the legislators voted for the taxes, the measure will likely go to voters who will more than likely vote them down and Salem will be left once again trying to figure out how to pay for their excessive spending.
Fears now abound about actions taken this year that will threaten Oregon’s ability to recover from the failing economy.
“It’s disappointing that the Legislature chose to hurt businesses at a time when most industrial sectors have shed thousands of jobs,” said Deputy Republican Leader Kevin Cameron (R-Salem). “In addition to massive tax increases and excessive regulation, Oregon businesses will be exposed to endless and costly litigation. This session has sent the wrong message to businesses as they decide whether to locate here, stay in operation, or move to other states where their jobs would be more welcome.”
“When we use the same strategy that Oregon families and small businesses are using to budget in these tough times, we don’t have to talk about raising taxes that will destroy Oregon jobs and hamstring our ability to get out of this recession,” said Senator Chris Telfer (R-Bend).
In addition to massive tax increases, new regulations will also impact the business community. For example, Senate Bill 519, a public employee union priority bill, effectively enacts a “gag order” against Oregon employers preventing them from holding company meetings where they discuss political issues that may affect jobs.
In addition legislators chose to over-rule local land use planning officials and banned the creation of an eco-friendly destination resort in Jefferson County.
This legislature will be defined by its anti-business sentiment and its failure to create an environment where the private sector can create jobs. Private sector investments and business activity without the burden of over government regulations and tax increases are the catalysts that spur economic recovery. PHA