06-29-2017  1:56 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Local Government, Employers Welcome Youth to SummerWorks

A record 1,150 youth will gain real-world work experience in jobs across Portland metro ...

Multnomah County Library Hosts ‘We Refuse to Be Enemies’

Library will hold a series of social justice workshops this summer ...

The Skanner Wins NNPA Award for Best Layout and Design

Our graphic designer Patricia Irvin wins for July 2016 issues ...

Cooling Centers to open in Multnomah County Saturday, Sunday

Temperatures expected to climb into the upper 90s this weekend ...

Multnomah County Leaders Release Statement on Safety at Summer Events

Officials advise public to check in, have a plan and be aware at public events ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Ask Ernie the Attorney

Ernest Warren's primary practice is personal injury, real property, corporate and criminal practice in Ore. and Wash. ...

Our Children Deserve High Quality Teachers

It’s critical that parents engage with educational leaders and demand equal access to high quality teachers ...

Civil Rights Groups Ask for Broad Access to Affordable Lending

Charlene Crowell writes that today’s public policy housing debate is also an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and...

Criminal Justice Disparities Present Barriers to Re-entry

Congressional Black Caucus Member Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) writes about the fight to reduce disparities in our criminal justice...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Editorial

Few issues in government get under people's skin like taxes. And few things in Oregon get people more riled up than the question of the state income tax "kicker."


The kicker is an automatic tax refund that goes into effect whenever the state's income tax revenues exceed budget projections by 2 percent. The excess money is refunded directly to individual taxpayers — and corporations — without debate or delay.


And therein lies the disagreement.


Backers of the kicker law say the excess money belongs to the taxpayers and that the government has no right to save or spend it. Opponents complain that the kicker is shortsighted and makes no allowances for occasions where there may be a legitimate and pressing need for the money — especially in a state that sets its budget for two years at a time.


Right now, the kicker question has a particularly keen edge — the state is expected to have a budget surplus of $666 million by the time the Legislature is next in session in 2007. Under the rules of the kicker law, individual taxpayers are set to receive $461 million in refunds, while corporations will receive $205 million.


Kicker opponents say that now is the time to revise the kicker statute to accommodate reality. Public school districts around the state are hurting for money — Portland schools are again scrambling to patch a gaping budget hole without laying off teachers or shaving days from the school year. Social programs, from public health to food support to transportation, face similar budget woes. Withholding all or part of the kicker, they say, would help to remedy these shortfalls without increasing tax rates.


But revising the kicker isn't easy — it's part of the Oregon Constitution and can be changed only by a ballot initiative. Whatever is done, it will be the will of the people.


Clearly a compromise is in order. Here is The Skanner's proposal: We support amending the kicker law in order to share those extra funds with programs that really help people. Both individuals and corporations, for the common good, should give up a portion of their refund. We propose that 25 percent of the kicker — some $166.5 million — be kept by the state and either saved or spent to plug holes in education and other vital programs.


The problem is that both sides in this debate are deeply entrenched in their positions — there's not much common ground to be found. The Skanner's proposal is a good starting point.

What do you think?

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