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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A step backwards

Oregon House set to approve $402.7 million tax
"It's not a Rainy Day Fund."

The devil may wear Prada, but The Oregonian's out-of-state billionaire owner Si Newhouse knows the devil is in the details, and Oregon businesses are now seeing red in the Legislature's stunning deal to create a new unregulated spending fund using $250 million of corporate withholdings.

Some of the same folks who last week heaped praise on the Legislature's agreement are now criticizing the deal's linchpin - a new $152.7 million Oregon corporate alternative minimum tax up to $50,000, based on in-state sales, not on profits. They say that the new AMT was supposed to max out at $5,000 but that House GOP Leader Wayne Scott, R-Canby, made a typographical error that was overlooked until now.

According to Oregonian publisher Fred A. Stickel, any re-examination of the corporate AMT plan must come later, not now, and it must not delay today's House vote on the over-tax and spending agreement. Here's why:

Si Newhouse and The Oregonian suck an estimated $160 million a year in profits out of the Oregon economy. All that money gets taken right out of Oregon consumers' pockets - in the form of higher prices for advertised goods and services. It then gets sent out-of-state to New York, where it fuels the media mogul family's extravagant Manhattan spending habits and adds to a fortune estimated, conservatively, at more than $25 billion.

An AMT of $50,000 represents a tax rate of only about .03 percent of the monopoly daily's Oregon-based annual profits - what Sam Newhouse used to call "a rounding error."
At a news conference Monday, House Majority Leader Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone and Our Oregon's Patty Wentz conceded that legislators and lobbyists spent most of their time patting themselves on the back about the big new spending fund and seizing the corporate kicker from Republicans, not digging into the details of the new corporate AMT.

It's no wonder that an agreement hailed as "bipartisan" by politicos, Si Newhouse and The Oregonian amounts to a good old-fashioned screwing for Oregonians and for the vast majority of small businesses. If they really cared about the common good as much as their political power, every member of the House would vote against it today. Don't count on it.

The Oregonian, OPINION By THE EDITORS, Mar. 7

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