Tax bills clear Oregon Senate; governor expected to sign
The Oregon Senate on Thursday, June 11, approved tax increases
on corporations and the state's wealthiest households, despite
failing to generate a single "yes" vote from Republicans.
The strictly partisan approval came one day after the "no"
vote of a Portland Democrat temporarily derailed the package.
The package is contained in two bills - one that raises
corporate taxes and one that raises income taxes for
households earning more than $250,000.
The revenue-raising bills needed "yes" votes from all 18
Democrats in the 30-member Senate to obtain the supermajority
needed to pass.
Sen. Mark Hass, D-Portland, who voted "no" on the corporate
tax increase bill one day earlier, changed his vote after
lawmakers reached an agreement that would place revenue
generated from corporate tax increases in the state's rainy
day fund beginning in 2013.
The package raises the corporate minimum tax from its current
$10 to a minimum of $150. The tax is determined on a sliding
scale based on gross sales receipts. It caps at $100,000 for
businesses with $100 million in sales.
House Bill 3405 also raises some filing fees and increases
taxes for companies that generate more than $250,000 in
The bills are expected to generate $733 million to help fill a
$4 billion state budget gap.
Senate Republicans - like House Republicans did previously -
roundly rejected the tax increases.
"These taxes will undermine the small businesses that create
jobs and help communities around Oregon thrive," Sen. Chris
Telfer, R-Bend, said.
"We're asking people who are potentially operating at a loss
to pay an increase in taxes," said Sen. Jeff Kruse,
"We've already lost 40,000 jobs in the timber industry," said
Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton. "This is ridiculous."
Democrats hailed the package, saying it brings balance to the
state's tax structure and is necessary to maintain vital state
"It's time to bring more fairness and equity to Oregon's tax
code," Sen. Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, said.
"This state will go into chaos without these bills," Sen. Alan
Bates, D-Ashland, said.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski hailed the revenue-raising package in a
press release issued shortly after the Senate's actions.
"This vote was not easy," Kulongoski said in the release, "but
it was necessary to protect our middle class and prevent
devastating cuts to programs like education, health care and
The bills now go to the governor's desk, where they are
expected to be signed into law.