Watching the Oregon Legislature, sometimes we sit back and marvel. Think of yourself as clever or inventive? It’s hard not to feel small time compared to the way the Legislature sneaks in new ways to fleece taxpayers.
Earlier this year, at the request of Gov. Kate Brown, House Bill 2269 was introduced. It was an innocuous bill about studying ways to fund health care. The bill directed that the Oregon Health Authority would have until Jan 1, 2020, to come up with some ideas. That was all the bill said.
But surprise! It’s now becoming a new tax on business that may bring in more than $500 million to the state. It would tax employers who employ 50 or more people up to about $1,040 per employee, if they don’t already pay that toward the employee’s health care. And it won’t be elected officials in the Legislature who will set up the details of how the program will work, so Oregonians could hold them accountable. It will be set up, instead, by a board appointed by Gov. Brown.
Also this session there is House Bill 2975. The bill doesn’t say it reduces the kicker — the tax rebate Oregonians are set to receive. The legislative analysis didn’t say the bill reduces the kicker. When it was debated in committee, reducing the kicker didn’t even come up. It passed out of committee as nothing more than a routine budget adjustment.
But the bill reduces the state’s estimated kicker by about $108 million from what it was at about $749 million. That means kicker tax rebate checks sent to Oregonians will be less. The bill passed the House and the Senate on the strength of support from Democrats. It now awaits action by Gov. Kate Brown.
Where was the opportunity for Oregonians to sound off about how they felt about cutting their tax rebate?
Democrats in the Legislature apparently don’t care. They just want the power to decide how to spend more taxpayer money.