Budget and spending reform should be the first order of business for Oregon public finance policy. Meanwhile, steps can be taken to improve the tax system incrementally. We need to bolster the state’s emergency reserve fund and create a permanent mechanism to fill it, such as future corporate and personal kickers. The fund should particularly safeguard education and other needs when the economy turns south.
Beyond these steps, the Oregon Business Plan has long advocated for a fundamental overhaul of the tax system, with reductions in income and capital gains taxes being offset by the addition of sales/consumption taxes. High income and capital gains taxes discourage economic activity in Oregon, punish succesful entrepreneurs and discourage wealthy individuals from locating and conducting major transactions in Oregon. At the same time Oregon needs adequate revenue to fund vital services.
We recognize that strong leadership from our elected leaders, a broad coalition of business, labor and consumer advocates, and a long-term effort is needed to bring this type of change forth to voters. We need to come together to develop a plan-both the policy and the political strategy to pass it. The Governor has been leading such an effort.