Rep. Conger joins non-profits to defend charitable donations

Jason Conger_thb

Rep. Jason Conger

Bend — State Representative Jason Conger (R-Bend) met Friday with a diverse group of local charities to hear their concerns about a bill introduced by Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) to end most itemized tax deductions (HB 2001).  Examples of deductions affected are medical expenses, home mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

The nearly 30 nonprofits represented at the event were alarmed at the prospect of losing the charitable deduction, a longstanding incentive for donors to give to charities. “Ninety-five percent of our budget comes from private donations,” said Kristy Krugh, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House of Central Oregon. “We could not exist if this bill inhibited, in any way, the ability for our community to give us the money and items we need to support our facility.”

In a joint written statement, officers of The Environmental Center, Deschutes Children’s Foundation, Arts Central and MountainStar Relief Nursery pointed out that communities rely on a partnership between the private sector, government and charitable nonprofits to provide essential services. “The charitable giving deduction is not just another tax loophole – it is a critical component of that partnership.  State and federal tax code changes to eliminate or weaken charitable giving ignore this reality and will create more problems than they solve.”

That conclusion was echoed repeatedly.  “Our private donations allow us to be dynamic and immediate with our services for veterans,” said Alison Perry, Executive Director of Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, adding that charitable contributions are not just a significant part of operating budgets, but are more flexible than grants and show community investment in the charity, which is critical to obtaining other funding.

Conger promised to fight the bill in the Legislature.  He asked the nonprofits to help by informing the Legislature about the critical role nonprofits play in communities and how HB 2001 would impact the organizations and those they serve.