08-20-2017  8:29 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Screens at New Performing Arts Center, Federal Way

Free screening follows the day after official ribbon cutting of the arts center ...

Join a Book Club at Your Neighborhood Library

At North Portland Library, Pageturners Black Voices focuses on books written by and about African and African American authors ...

Meeting of the NE Community Development Oversight Committee

The fourth meeting will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 23 ...

Health Share of Oregon Invests $3M in Community Health Workers

Investment will improve health care access, quality and outcomes for Oregonians who face barriers to care ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

SEIU’s President: No Place for White Supremacists in the White House

Mary Kay Henry makes following statement on Trump’s remarks after violence in Charlottesville ...

It’s Time to Show “Middle Neighborhoods” Love, Before It’s too Late

Middle Neighborhoods, School Rehabilitation and Food Insecurity are key action items for the policy agenda of the CBC. ...

Despite Unequal Treatment, Black Women Will Rise

NNPA Newswire Columnist Julianne Malveaux talks about Black Women’s Equal Pay Day ...

PCC Cascade President on Free Tuition Program

Any student who qualifies for the Oregon Promise can attend most in-state community colleges tuition-free ...

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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