At the beginning of my political career I promised constituents that I would listen to all of their input, weigh their concerns and if necessary be willing to stand up when necessary and cast the difficult vote. Today in the House of Representatives was one of those days when I needed to make two of those very difficult votes.
The first of those involved HB 2649 which raises the income tax rate for individuals with taxable income above $125,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint filers for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2009. The second was HB3405 which replaces Oregon's $10 minimum corporate tax with a sliding gross receipt tax for C corporations that starts at $150 on the amount of Oregon sales up to $500,000, and tops out at $100,000 for sales greater than $100 million.
Both before, and after I voted in favor of these bills I was asked if these were difficult decisions and votes to make. Absolutely, these were very difficult votes, primarily because regardless of how I voted there was some concern I needed to vote the opposite way.
In this economy I understand that it will be a hardship for some people to pay more taxes. I recognize that many small businesses in Oregon are suffering and in fact possibly need help. I also recognize that there probably is never a "good" time to raise taxes.
As I agonized about my vote I kept remembering my campaign pledges to do my best to continue providing the best education possible for our youth in this state. Another pledge was to help keep senior citizens in their own homes as long as possible by providing necessary support for their needs. And one of the most vulnerable populations in this state, the people with disabilities, certainly can not afford to have their services reduced. One of the major reasons for the existence of government is to protect the most vulnerable of its citizens.
With this weighing heavily on my mind I had to choose: choose between providing more than lip service for the education of our children; choose between quality care for our frail elderly; choose between protecting our most fragile citizens with diabilities or requiring corporations like Alaska Airlines and others to pay more than a ridiculously low $10 per year minimum corporate tax and also ask those most wealthy of our citizens to add another step to our income tax rate.
In the end I chose to support the most needy.
Rep. Bob Jenson
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