Regional economic development organizations officially oppose IP 28

A group of economic development organizations representing a large geographic area and a majority of Oregon’s population base, issued joint statements of opposition to Oregon Initiative Petition (IP) 28. Those organizations include Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), Greater Portland Inc (GPI), Strategic Economic Development Corporation (SEDCOR) and Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI). The board of each non-profit organization voted unanimously to oppose the measure.

IP 28 represents the single largest tax increase in Oregon’s 157-year history. It proposes a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on C-corporations with more than $25 million in sales in Oregon, increasing government general fund spending by 25 percent. Over the 2017-19 biennium, it is estimated to increase taxes by $6.1 billion, resulting in private-sector job losses and making Oregon’s tax to income ratio the ninth highest in the nation (currently #26), according to a report issued recently by the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office (LRO).

“Approximately 1,000 businesses in Oregon will be directly responsible for paying this new tax, and they are heavily concentrated on retail, wholesale and utility sectors,” said SEDCOR PresidentChad Freeman,“Impacts will be felt throughout the supply chain and hit Oregon consumers especially hard.”

While four states impose a small tax on gross sales, not profits, there is no precedent in the U.S. for such a high gross receipts tax. IP 28 includes no exemptions for food, fuel or health care, and no adjustments for the impact of taxing certain goods and services multiple times. On average, Oregonians would pay an additional $600 more per household for food, fuel, utilities, and other goods or services impacted by the measure as the tax is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

“This measure is a full frontal attack on working families, the poor, those on fixed incomes, and our employers,” said Roger Lee, executive director for EDCO. “If approved by voters in November, it could undo 20 years of economic development and diversification across the state,” he warned.

SOREDI, SEDCOR, GPI, and EDCO have joined the Oregon Economic Development Association in opposing IP 28. These economic development groups join a diverse and rapidly-growing list of businesses, organizations and individuals opposing the measure.

“IP 28 sends a negative message to companies considering an investment or expansion in Oregon,” said Janet LaBar, president and CEO of Greater Portland Inc. “If passed, the nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office predicted IP 28 would hinder business growth, job creation and the retention of existing jobs for Oregonians. Their report estimated private sector job losses would exceed 38,000. This threatens the future of economic development that is necessary for our state to thrive.”

According to the Oregon Employment Department, over the past decade (2005-2015), all areas outside the Portland Metro area created a net of only 4,300 new jobs, including both public and private sectors. Even Oregon’s largest cities (MSAs – Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, Bend and Medford) outside Portland only created 12,680 net new jobs over the same period. Rural Oregon lost jobs over the decade.

“As advocates for a healthy business environment in Southern Oregon, we cannot stand by idly without commenting on the damage this measure would do. If passed, we will essentially be out of the business-attraction game,” said Colleen Padilla, executive director for SOREDI.

Oregon’s Secretary of State has certified that IP 28 backers gathered the signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot this fall. While the petition language states that the initiative would provide funding to education, health care and senior services, the measure actually does nothing to guarantee the new tax revenues will go to schools, health care or senior services. All the revenue generated by IP 28 would be paid into the state General Fund, giving legislators and state officials a blank check to spend billions of dollars as they please, with no accountability to Oregonians.

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