As lawmakers meet today in special session to consider the so-called "Nike bill," the outcome is pretty predictable—the bill will pass in some form. But many lawmakers in both parties have concerns, ranging from tax fairness, to the speed and secrecy with which Gov. John Kitzhaber and Nike developed the concept to how other companies, including Intel, that also might want similar assurance about the state's approach to corporate taxes, will be impacted.
Here is a letter that Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland) read into the record in a Thursday hearing on the bill, outlining the issues she and other House Dems have.
Jared Mason-Gere, a spokesman for the House Democrats, said at least 10 members were likely to sign the letter.
To: The members of the Special Committee
From: The Undersigned Members of the Oregon Assembly
December 13, 2012
We the undersigned write with respect to the single bill under consideration in the 2012 Special Session of the legislature.
We deeply appreciate the historic investment the Nike Corporation has made in Oregon, and we look forward to their growth in our state. Living-wage jobs in the knowledge economy are crucial to Oregon’s future.
We have some concerns about the process by which the legislature was asked to hear this bill. A Special Legislative Session should be used as a last resort to address emergency issues that cannot wait until the next regular session. Many of us wish that this issue could be taken up in the 2013 session where it could be given the time to fully explore policy options and impacts.
Since the Governor has explained that this opportunity cannot wait, we would like to address some of the concerns that have been brought to us and some ways to improve the bill.
· Shorten the Sunset: Keeping the life of this bill short would allow for the legislature to consider if this tool is smart to apply more broadly.
· Shorten the length of the deals: Locking in a given tax deal for a much shorter period would still provide a lot of certainty for a company, without locking in a particular tax arrangement past the seeable horizon.
· Accountability: There are job growth and capital investment promises. A strengthened “clawback” provision could help keep those promises.
· Clarify Job Requirements: Make sure that the jobs that count to satisfy the deal are living wage jobs that last in Oregon.
· Transparency: Make sure that any company that takes advantage of the deal discloses the benefits and progress towards the commitments in accordance with Oregon’s transparency principles. We hope that such changes will strengthen the bill, better protect the public interest, and give lawmakers greater confidence in the legislation.
Thank you for your consideration and for your service.