by Rep. Kim Thatcher
Oregon State Representative (R-Keizer)
This session offers many challenges and opportunities. There is a lot of heavy lifting to do this year, especially with a $3.5 billion dollar gap between the amount of tax revenue coming in to the state and the amount agencies say they need to maintain current programs.
The challenges come in juggling the budget. The opportunities come in looking for ways to revamp the way we do business in state government. If there was ever a time to establish solid priorities of government and match spending accordingly, this is it. If there was ever a time to reform PERS and other benefits provided to state workers, this is it. This list goes on but I think you get my point.
We also need to help our economy recover from the recession. Oregon businesses need the state to get out of the way. They need fewer regulations, taxes and fees; not more. I’m optimistic that the legislature will look for ideas to create the kind of tax and regulatory environment where businesses will create more jobs.
I’ve been encouraged by some of the changes our new Governor has proposed, but I am waiting to see how he will follow through. For the first time in state history the House of Representatives is split with 30 Republicans and 30 Democrats. The Co-Speakers have promised to work together on important issues and I hope that spirit of cooperation can be maintained through the difficult decisions ahead.
This week the list of committee assignments were distributed and I was honored to be named the Co-Chair of the new Joint Legislative Committee on Audits, Information Management & Technology. I expect this committee will be able to really drill down in certain areas of government accountability. I was also placed on the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, and selected to be Co-Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services.
Rep. Thatcher is sponsoring the following bills to reduce Oregon’s tax burden:
HB 2817 Eliminates Oregon’s inheritance tax.
HB 2819 Repeals Ballot Measure 66 which raised personal income taxes to 11 percent for some Oregonians.
HB 2820 Repeals Ballot Measure 67 which raised corporate tax rates to 8 percent for certain businesses.