Representative Wand: Protect the kicker; we need jobs, not more taxes

by Rep. Matt Wand (R-Troutdale)

Former state Rep. Brent Barton has been calling for the elimination of tax “kicker” refunds to Oregonians. Eliminate the kicker refund, Barton writes, and the state’s finances will stabilize and we’ll earn a much-coveted “AAA” from bond rating agencies.

Repealing the kicker may impress some Wall Street bankers, but it’ll do little to stabilize state finances and absolutely nothing to improve our economy and put people back to work.

Oregon voters placed the kicker in the Oregon Constitution as a reaction to Salem’s spending habits. Their suspicions are well-founded. Every time the Legislature “suspended” the kicker, most recently the corporate kicker in 2007, Salem spent every penny and failed to stabilize the state’s revenues.

We have no reason to believe this time it will be any different. During Barton’s single term in the Oregon House, the 2009 Legislature raised taxes by $1.6 billion while increasing overall state spending by 18 percent, all during a historic recession. This kind of spending, with or without the kicker, is not a good recipe for fiscal stability.

Rather than eliminating the kicker, a better solution is to require the Legislature to set aside 1 percent of general fund revenue for a rainy day fund every biennium. The plan is simple because it forces state government to save money before it spends it all.

Rather than waiting years for the kicker to kick in, this proposal would provide consistent savings to protect vital services during an emergency. To earn an AAA rating, Oregon needs an AAA economy.

Rather than extracting more revenue, government should create an environment in which businesses can succeed and hire. We should also provide tax relief to families and low-income Oregonians. Last session, I supported legislation that would have provided a $500 child tax credit and would have adjusted the personal income tax brackets to reduce the burden on those who are suffering during this economic downturn. When Oregonians have more money in their pockets, they will spend it at local businesses, help create jobs and generate more tax revenues for state and local governments.

With more money in the economy, nonpartisan analysts in Salem have estimated this legislation would have created over 19,000 jobs. Unfortunately, it has been challenging to pass measures to encourage businesses to hire unemployed workers, to reduce excessive regulations on businesses seeking to locate and expand in Oregon, and to provide tax relief to families and low-income Oregonians.

The Legislature should reconsider these solutions when it reconvenes in February. Barton’s argument for eliminating the kicker ignores the fact that Oregon is still mired in a deep economic downturn. Raising taxes will not create more jobs, and over the long term will not bring long-term stability that Barton and others are promising.

As long as Oregon’s economy continues to struggle, an AAA rating alone won’t solve our problems. We need an AAA economy, with a consistent savings plan and a healthy business environment to secure Oregon’s long-term stability and prosperity.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Oregon House, State Budget, State Taxes | 31 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Ladywriter

    I am one of the people who can not fend for himself. I need the state to assist me with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, transportation, and many other essentials for the good life. If we get rid of the so-called kicker then the state will have more money to spend on people like me, life’s hapless, luckless, losers who can not fend for themselves.
    This is good. This is America, where the poor need all the help they can get.
    And don’t try to tell me to get a job – I studied journalism at the U of O and nobody ever told me that reporters would be a dying breed.
    I am stuck. My 99 weeks of unemployment is about to end. Then what will I do???

    • Devin

      Assuming your sane and not a quadriplegic or something, you can fend for yourself, and you don’t “need” the state for those things.  I am not saying it will be easy, but you can find a job even in this market.  I understand you got a degree in journalism, but if there is no jobs in journalism its time to try something different.  America is the land of opportunity, not the place where “poor need all the help they can get”.
      If you need money I would start here:
      Try doing a search like “entry level” or look for some kind of office work.  Even if you have 0 skills there are some jobs out there.  (But if journalism isn’t working for you, I suggest you try and figure out what you want to do instead and develop those skills).
      But regardless we got so many state funded, low income programs, if you sign up for them your not going to starve to death while you look for a job (but do look for a job!):

      • just doing the math

        Please, don’t you recognize sarcasm when you read it?

        • Devin

          Talked to too many people that actualy believe that….

          • just doing the math

            I think you were just trying to be helpful.


    • guest

      Send your résumé to FL Michelle Obama – and, be sure to Cc: 

      Imagine yourself entitled as a No. 23.  

  • Bob Clark


  • valley person

    What about the jobs of teachers, fire fighters, park rangers, police officers, highway workers, and the rest? Those don’t count?

  • valley person

    What about the jobs of teachers, fire fighters, park rangers, police officers, highway workers, and the rest? Those don’t count?

  • valley person

    What about the jobs of teachers, fire fighters, park rangers, police officers, highway workers, and the rest? Those don’t count?

    • Devin

      Not sure what that has to do with the kicker.  All those jobs are budgeted in and paid for.  The kicker is only occurs when more then 2% unexpected additional tax money collected.

      • valley person

        And the money that could be stashed from the could help employ people during downturns, like this one.

        • guest

          Who owns the tax monies over-collected by government?
          really, such money better used at owners discretion, not government types with an appetite to overspend taxpayers wealth after piling their own trays with $16 muffins.  Cheese Louise VP, c’mon and wise up!    

  • Founding Fathers

    The Republicans say they want government to be run more like business.

    Tell me, how many businesses have a policy that if their revenues exceed forecasts by 2% or more, the excess will be returned to customers? Are there any?

    • Mwand75

      Actually, they are called dividends, and they are paid out to shareholders all the time.

      • valley person

        Dividends are not returned to customers. They are returned to share holders. 

        • Guest

          Taxpayers are shareholders, we aren’t customers.

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