By Hillary Borrud

The Oregonian

Oregon’s largest company dumped $100,000 on Monday into a political action committee that supports lawmakers’ $2 billion tax hike, in a move that suggests the company is prepared to defend the tax plan at the ballot.

Although Democratic lawmakers reached a last-minute tax deal Monday with the state’s largest business association, some companies remain adamantly opposed to the plan and have already laid the groundwork to refer it to voters.

House Bill 3427 was voted out of committee on Monday.

Plan advances after last-minute deal

A plan to raise billions of dollars in new business taxes to fund improvements to Oregon’s public schools and early childhood programs cleared a key hurdle Monday night, when it passed out of committee on a party line vote.

Last year, Nike helped found the Common Good Fund political action committee, which partnered with public employee unions to defeat four conservative ballot initiatives in November.

The company’s top lobbyist, Senior Director of Government and Public Affairs Julia Brim-Edwards, is a director of the PAC. Brim-Edwards is also a Portland school board member.

Power play: Nike takes a big role in tax policy

Raising billions of dollars in taxes to pour into improving schools is at the top of legislative Democrats’ to-do list and there’s one company in particular they see offering help: Nike.

The same businesses and unions involved in the political action committee have also been active in recent months through an associated group called the Coalition for the Common Good, pushing lawmakers to pass a so-called gross receipts tax to raise $2 billion per biennium to spend on schools.

Alliance calls for $2B business tax increase

In a presentation to the legislative subcommittee tasked with devising a way to raise huge amounts of new money for K-12 schools, members of the Coalition for the Common Good made it clear they would prefer a so-called gross receipts tax, which would be calculated based on businesses’ sales.

With Nike’s contribution on Monday, the Common Good Fund now has $113,000 on hand, according to state campaign finance records.

A company spokesman declined to comment on the contribution Tuesday. In a letter to lawmakers on Monday, the company reiterated its support for the tax and education spending plan, saying the company “supports the substantial investments in Oregon’s public schools as described in the bill.”

Brim-Edwards and fellow Nike lobbyist Melissa Vaillancourt praised the plan for its “transparent, low-rate consumption tax that applies broadly and equitably across business entity types, provides more stability to the current state revenue system, is administratively feasible, reduces over-reliance on personal income taxes, and dedicates funds to improve Oregon’s public education system.”