Oregon Capitol

The fate of a sweeping climate change proposal that prompted Senate Republicans to abandon the statehouse appeared in doubt Monday, as both sides continued negotiations to end the standoff.

Businesses in Oregon face $1 billion in newly passed taxes earmarked for education reform. Climate change legislation pending in the Legislature promises to increase fuel and energy costs for all businesses, and those businesses that will be required to buy carbon emissions permits will see huge increases in costs.

As you might expect, business interests have testified that these increased costs could push some businesses to leave the Beaver State.

“So what,” says Oregon state Sen. James Manning, a Democrat from Springfield.

“I say leave the state,” he said from the Senate floor. “Somebody else will come in. I get so sick and tired of hearing that.”

And to make sure he was not misunderstood, he double down.

“We can’t tax corporations because they will leave,” he said. “Let ’em leave. Somebody else will come in.”

It’s probably a common sentiment among supporters of increased taxes and fees. It’s just rare that anyone says it out loud.

Manning had an honorable and distinguished military career. Since leaving the Army he has served on the Eugene Police Commission and has been involved with a number of nonprofit organizations. He has served on the Eugene Water and Electric Board and as a small claims mediator for the Lane County Circuit Court.

Prior to joining the Army, Manning worked as a state corrections officer and as a police officer. All noble undertakings.

But like many in the Legislature, Manning has never owned or operated a private business, never met a payroll and never paid the taxes businesses are required to pay. He has had scant experience receiving a wage from a private business thus charged.

Let ’em leave. The employees left without jobs will be happy to know that other companies looking to locate where costs are high will swoop in and offer them another situation. The communities where a mill or factory is shuttered have nothing to worry about. Neither do local vendors and contractors who depend on the exiled companies for their livelihoods.

Somebody else will come in. Won’t they?

Tax the gross receipts of existing businesses, raise their energy costs and hike their fees to the extent that leaving Oregon becomes an attractive option and we’ll find out.

That could be an expensive lesson in economics for the Legislature, but it will be Oregonians who pay the tab.

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