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Oregon House Members Divide Along Partisan Lines On Tax Vote

December 20, 2017
In The News

Oregon’s lawmakers are dividing along predictable partisan lines in the debate whether the tax bill racing through Congress would help or hurt the state.

All four of the Oregon’s Democrats voted Tuesday against a measure they complain is weighted too heavily in favor of large corporations and the wealthy.

Republican Rep. Greg Walden countered that a large majority of Oregonians would get a tax cut and that it would also spur business investment.

“I can tell you, having met a payroll and owned a business, this is how you grow the economy,” Walden said in a telephone call with reporters. 

He dismissed official projections from congressional forecasters that the tax bill would increase the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade, saying he thought economic growth would make up for it.

But Portland Congressman Earl Blumenauer said in an interview with OPB that the tax bill could discourage higher paid workers from taking jobs at the region’s top employers. The Democrat said the new $10,000 limit on state income and local property taxes that can be deducted will particularly hit more well-to-do Oregon residents.

“This is going to hammer people at Intel, Nike, Columbia (Sportswear) — the areas where we’ve got lots of well-paid people who’ve helped support the state,” said Blumenauer, a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

He said he was concerned the new tax bill could encourage workers with strong job prospects to go to states where income taxes or lower or nonexistent.

Oregon relies more heavily on income taxes than many states. And higher-wage workers tend to pay a particularly high percentage of those taxes. The latest statistics show that those earning more than $100,000 a year account for about 17 percent of the taxpayers but pay nearly two-thirds of income taxes.

Walden said he thought the other states in competition for highly educated workers also have high state and local taxes, such as California and Massachusetts. He said he is getting indications from Intel that the company will use new tax provisions to bring back some revenue from overseas to invest in more U.S. production capacity.

In Southwest Washington, Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler also voted for the bill. She emphasized projections from the House GOP’s tax staff showing that an average family in her area earning the median income of about $84,000 would get a tax cut of more than $2,000.

Oregon Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio joined all other House Democrats in opposing the legislation.