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Oregon Democrats, Governor Say They'll Skip The Corporate Tax Hike


Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, center, discusses climate change at a news conference held by Calif., Gov. Jerry Brown, left, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Sacramento, California.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, center, discusses climate change at a news conference held by Calif., Gov. Jerry Brown, left, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Sacramento, California.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Democrats in the Oregon Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown say they’ve given up trying to increase taxes on corporations during this year’s legislative session.

Brown, along with House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney, issued a joint statement Thursday. In it, they said it appears as though there won’t be enough votes to get the proposal enacted. 

“It has become clear that the Legislature will not have the necessary support to achieve structural revenue reforms this session,” the Democrats said in the release.

Speaking to reporters in her state Capitol office, the governor said she was disappointed at the failure of the plan to move forward this year.

“It is clear that we need additional time and a full legislative session to work through the issues facing our tax system,” Brown said.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown addresses reporters after announcing that a proposal to overhaul Oregon's corporate tax code will be placed on hold until at least 2019.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown addresses reporters after announcing that a proposal to overhaul Oregon's corporate tax code will be placed on hold until at least 2019.

Chris Lehman/OPB

Democrats hold the majority in both the Oregon House and Senate. But tax increases require a three-fifths vote, and that means at least one Republican in each chamber would need to vote for the proposal.

No GOP lawmakers publicly indicated support for the plan, and it’s not clear whether every Democrat was on board, either.

House Republican Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte said his party would have been happy to raise corporate taxes if Democrats had budged more on cost-cutting proposals.

“It’s disappointing that we’ve digressed into shame and blame politics at this point,” he said.

The legislative leaders and the governor say they will try to address corporate taxes again in 2019. But for now, they say lawmakers will focus on balancing the budget by cutting costs.

Oregon lawmakers also passed a tax increase on health care providers this week as a way to address costs related to the statewide expansion of Medicaid.

The Legislature is required to balance the state’s budget and wrap up the session by July 10.

The news of the corporate tax plan effort being dropped drew swift reaction from some public employee unions, who have repeatedly called on legislators to pass the tax.

“Let’s be clear: our elected leaders and business community have failed our students,” said Oregon Education Association President Hanna Vaandering. “It’s a sad day when our elected officials are not willing to put the needs of our students ahead of corporate lobbyists.”

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