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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Bending over frontwards

Business rolled on taxes

The plan to create a new unregulated state spending account drew chuckles in union halls around Oregon on Monday after bipartisan complaints poured in from businesses upset about proposed new increased minimum tax rates.

The package deal is expected to hold together. Both Minority Leader Wayne Scott, R-Canby, and House Majority Leader Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, said they stand by it.

"Business can go pound sand for all I care. Republican leadership has no second thoughts," said Scott.

Amid the new complaints, Gov. Tim Nesbitt conceded that politics is "the art of the possible" and said he is willing to increase the new corporate minimum tax rates after the package clears both the House and Senate.

Once details got the endorsement of the government union group Our Oregon, businesses started looking closer - and did not like what they saw. But it was too late.

Rep. Tom Butler, the Republican vice chairman of the House Revenue Committee, and the only lawmaker to vote against the union-backed plan, said the new minimum taxes for corporations are "defective" and are being "jammed down our throats."

The plan's stair-step design means a business with $1 more in sales than its neighbor will owe as much as $25,000 more in state taxes, said Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany. For many companies, he said the minimum tax is simply too high. A corporation that earns a 2 percent profit on sales of $1,000,001 would have to pay half its $20,000 in profits toward Oregon income taxes, business lobbyists and some Republican lawmakers complained.

Democrats said lawmakers need to honor the deal brokered by their leaders, and that if they stray "off the reservation", they will get zilch when it comes to log-rolling and back-scratching later in the session. Punishing Republicans via the corporate tax is too important, they said.

The Oregonian, Mar. 6, By BETSY HAMMOND

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