Gov. Kate Brown signs some bills with great fanfare. Smiling legislators and sometimes members of the public gather round Brown at a desk. She is often pictured smiling herself, holding up a bill framed by the smilers in the background.
But we didn’t see a photo released with all those smiles for House Bill 2975. It reduces the kicker tax rebate Oregonians were due.
Couldn’t Brown find members of the public delighted that the government is keeping their money? Didn’t people believe Oregon government was acting with openness and good faith?
HB 2975 was designed to sneak by the public from the beginning. There’s no mention in the amended bill that it reduces the kicker by an estimated $108 million. There’s no mention that Oregon taxpayers will get less money and the government will keep more.
The bill’s printed legislative analysis failed to bring it up. The kicker was not mentioned during the subcommittee hearing on the bill.
When the bill was brought before the full Joint Ways and Means Committee, legislators didn’t bat an eye as the bill zipped through. Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, introduced the bill to the committee in a way that was misleading at best — as a routine bill “to support a rebalance of the 2017-19 approved budget.” If other legislators on that committee knew then that the bill reduced the kicker, they didn’t say a word. Makes us wonder what else has slipped past.
The truth about the bill did come out — after it was set for a vote on the House floor. Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, apparently heard about the kicker aspect, thanks in part to Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis.
But it’s in committee when bills are usually debated, possibly amended, and when the public gets an opportunity to comment on them. This bill slinked past without any of that.
So if you get a kicker tax rebate, it will be about 14% less than what you were set to receive.
That’s because your elected legislators were less than competent and honest about what they were doing with your money.