Legislature should give tax relief to working families

From the Statesman Journal on Saturday:

By Senator Ted Ferrioli

Senate Republicans have championed an agenda for February’s session that will make Oregon a better, stronger and safer place to live, work and play.

We have fought for things such as putting a state trooper on every Oregon highway every day of the week. We have championed excellence in the classroom by giving teachers the resources and standards they need to improve outcomes for Oregon’s children.

We are dedicated to leaving Salem in February with progress on each of those issues. But there seems to be a deafening silence about the most pressing issue of the day: the economy.

Little more than a glance at a newspaper business page will show that the nation’s economy is heading for troubled waters. Knowing that, it would be a mistake to come to Salem this February without a vigorous and well-designed plan for stimulating the economy. Decisive leadership in February to bolster Oregon jobs and families can shelter us from the tough times ahead.
Of course, the first and best defense against economic difficulties is a government that is small and efficient. We need to prioritize, root out waste and put money away for the difficult times instead of spending it all. Responsibility, accountability and discipline should be the watch words in Salem.

But the other piece of the economic puzzle is long-overdue tax relief for Oregon families. Today, someone making minimum wage in Oregon pays the exact same tax rate as someone earning $250,000 per year. That isn’t right.

Increasing the tax exemption so the working poor pay less is the right thing to do, and it will put our economy on a strong foundation to weather the coming storm.

Doubling the tax exemption will put $375 million back into Oregon’s economy and create 19,951 jobs across the state, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office. Those jobs would cut our unemployment rate in half and create incentives for out-of-state companies to relocate to Oregon.

Doubling the exemption would take a bite from the state’s budget, but I see that as an opportunity to cut out waste. The state government budget grew by 20 percent last year; I think there is room to cut.

Numbers only go so far proving why a change in the tax exemption is a good idea. Oregon families can make the argument far better. For a family of four earning $35,000 per year, doubling the tax exemption isn’t abstract; it is an extra $400. That is money that can go toward winter coats for the kids or a high school activity fee.

We would be shirking our duty if we left Salem without doing something to put our economy on solid ground in preparation for the coming storm. I think restoring accountability to government and enacting real tax relief do just that.

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Posted by at 01:22 | Posted in Measure 37 | 9 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    Here is my question for Ted. If you have fought hard for state troopers on every highway every day of the week, why aren’t they there?
    We don’t want people who fight hard. We want people who accomplish things.
    By my reckoning we are at least 250-300 troopers short right now.
    PLEASE correct this most egregious error BEFORE you “fight hard” for anything else.
    You have done nothing to restore faith or accountability in government in the last two years – why should we expect any change now during a session that should not even be held??
    I am hoping Ted will respond personally to these questions – otherwise, why post stuff here??

  • Dian

    I agree with you whole heartedly. It’s time to get government out of our pockets and get our lives back. Question is, do you really think that will happen.

  • Steve Plunk

    Senate Republicans should not even have an agenda for this unconstitutional session. Test drive or not the people have not given permission for this session and the arrogance of the elected officials is shameful.

    State troopers on every Oregon highway, every day of the week? Every highway? If you’re not going to speak to us in real terms why bother at all?

    How exactly do you “champion” excellence in the classroom? What tools and resources will you provide?

    The sad fact is government intrusion is what got into most of the messes we are in today. High taxes and heavy regulatory burdens all come from Salem. Want to help Oregonians? Just cut taxes, cut spending, and deregulate instead of regulate.

    I stand by the old warning of getting the women and children off the streets when the legislature in is session. More harm than good will come from this ‘test drive’.

  • Bob Clark

    I should think a cut in the marginal tax rate from 9% down to even 8% might be revenue neutral over several years. Why? Right now California government is in a world of hurt financially. The bent of California’s politicians is to try to raise tax rates to bring the state budget back into balance. A cut by Oregon might entice a large increase in California-to-Oregon migration, as Californians flee higher Califonia taxes. These folks would probably bring taxable small businesses and/or fixed income streams with them.

  • RinoWatch

    Ferrioli,
    If you were any kind of “leader” you’d have your caucus stay home next week.
    Your type of “leadership” is disgusting!

    • CRAWDUDE

      I have to agree with Rino on this one, you are pretty weak when it comes to leadership. Typical of an Oregon Republican though.

  • eagle eye

    “Doubling the exemption would take a bite from the state’s budget, but I see that as an opportunity to cut out waste. The state government budget grew by 20 percent last year; I think there is room to cut.”

    Ted, let’s hear some specifics. I’m all ears.

  • dean

    If you cut taxes at the low end, it sounds great. But what programs are you also going to cut? If they are programs that serve the low end, then it might not be much of a deal. We will give you an extra $500 and your kids get a worse education, or you get less health care? Or the transportation system you rely on deteriorates faster?

    So what we have is the latest in a long line of free candy from Republicans (tax cuts) with no explanation of the cost.

  • Terry Parker

    It is not just working families that need tax relief. Seniors and people on fixed incomes, and working individuals with low incomes all need tax relief, especially in the City of Portland where the greedy City Council continues to increase the cost of living with, transportation fees on utility bills, mandating increased garbage rates, increased sewer rates etc, etc, etc. The only thing green is being paid to city coffers for special interest agenda programs.

    Here too the legislature needs to respond by giving more back to these forgotten groups of individuals that often do not rely on social services for support. One way to help would be giving these people larger tax exemptions and rebates that give these people a higher percentage in return than wealthier taxpayers. Another avenue that would encourage savings and investment for both low income and working class individuals and families would be to eliminate the capital gains tax on the first $50.000 or so for small investors. Beyond that amount taxes would still be paid.

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