Of all the issues worthy of Oregon legislators’ immediate attention, a narrow tax break for businesses would rank far, far down the list.
Yet that tax break is why Gov. Kate Brown is ordering the Legislature to convene on May 21. Having signed state legislation that takes a potential tax break away from many businesses, Brown now wants to grant one to roughly 9,000 sole proprietorships.
In Pendleton last week, Brown said that she thinks “very strongly that Oregon’s small businesses need tax fairness and they need it now. They can’t wait until 2019.”
The governor, who just happens to be running for re-election this year, recently had a self-realization: “We have an obvious inequity in Oregon’s tax system that is prejudiced against thousands of small Oregon businesses, and a simple change can fix it. I’m simply not willing to let these main street businesses — entrepreneurs, mom and pops, and start-ups — go through another tax year with unfair tax treatment as compared to their larger competitors.”
Thus, Brown wants a one-day special legislative session on May 21, although it might last longer.
That tax break might be worthwhile, although the details have been sketchy. But we wonder why Brown can’t let the tax break wait for the 2019 Legislature, yet she is leaving a slew of more-important issues hanging.
Brown is not calling a special session to make Oregon’s unstable tax system better align with the state’s economic and educational priorities.
She is not calling a special session to address our substance-abuse epidemic flowing from opioids, alcohol and other drugs.
She is not calling a special session to confront the well-chronicled deficiencies in the state’s child welfare program.
She is not calling a special session to complete needed reforms in the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System.
She is not calling a special session to tackle the widespread shortage of affordable housing across Oregon.
She is not even calling a special session to devise a new, public-supported plan for replacing the nearly obsolete Interstate 5 bridges in Portland.
And she certainly is not calling a special session to address many of the issues that have divided rural and urban Oregon.
Choose any of the above or add your own topic, and it likely would matter more to Oregonians — including legislators and businesspeople — than Brown’s plan for a May 21 special session.