While the top priority for most Oregonians in this legislative session is making sure that we’re actually funding our schools and basic services, the top priority for the corporate lobby (including the Oregonian’s editorial board) is handing out taxpayer dollars through forgivable “loans” to private companies and developers.
It’s couched in a deeply wonky title: “Oregon Industrial Readiness Program.” What it amounts to is this: Developers want to turn more Oregon land into sites that can be used by manufacturing companies. However, they don’t want to have to pay the costs to develop the property. So they hit up the state for a forgivable “loan” to cover the costs—and then pocket the profits.
It looks like lawmakers have gotten the message that big, obvious tax cuts for large corporations and the rich are politically unpopular—and that’s putting it mildly. So, now, they’re using the “forgivable loans” scheme to disguise what they are: Subsidies to corporations.
It’s not like Oregon has money to spare. The legislature’s budget writers have proposed a budget for K-12 schools that–at best–means school districts will just be holding the line with the current level of overcrowded classrooms and–at worst–means many districts will still be making cuts to teaching staff and school days. Under that same proposed budget, services for seniors and people with disabilities will be facing as much as $135 million in cuts.
At the same time, Oregon is projected to give away more than $36 billion in tax breaks over the next two years–that’s an increase of 29% just since 2009.
Given all of that, why is the legislature considering yet another handout to big corporations and developers? Shouldn’t they be focused on putting money where it matters most: Our schools and the critical services that families depend?
Think it’s an outrage that some legislators are considering more tax breaks for big corporations and the rich? Sign the petition telling lawmakers to say NO to new tax giveaways.