Oregon Legislature to Reconvene to Approve Budget Compromise

CQ StateTrack’s Connor O’Brien reports that Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) has called the state’s legislature into a special session to approve a budget compromise. During the special session, which is set to convene Sept. 30, lawmakers will likely vote on a series of revenue measures that include increases in the state’s cigarette and corporate taxes as well as the elimination of a $183 personal tax exemption. The legislative package also includes cuts to the state’s Public Employees Retirement System and eliminates certain tax deductions for medical procedures for seniors, while adding funds to education services.

“This is the Oregon way,” Kitzhaber said in a statement. “I applaud my legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle for once again coming together for the benefit of all Oregonians. This framework offers a balanced approach that will allow for a sustained reinvestment in Oregon education and other critical services, like mental health, over the long term. We’re delivering for Oregon’s children, for Oregon’s economy, for Oregon’s future.”

An outline presented by the governor’s office details elements of the budget deal:

INVESTMENTS 2013-15 – $211 million
  • $100 million in new revenue for K-12
  • $40 million for community college and university tuition relief
  • $12 million expansion of the earned income tax credit
  • $20 million toward mental health from 10 cent cigarette tax
  • $41 million for senior programs
Public Employees Retirement System
  • $4.6 billion in overall reduction of the unfunded actuarial liability
  • Reduced PERS COLA while mitigating impacts on lower-wage workers
  • Additional PERS transparency and confidence-building measures
REVENUE  – 2013-15
  • $244 million in new revenue for 2013-15 biennium
  • Includes Small and Family Business Tax Relief by lowering rate on pass-through business active income, and a Fair Trade Tax Treatment for certain agricultural exporters (2013-15 phase-in totaling $43 million)
Other provisions
•  Allow consideration of statewide Genetically Modified Organism policy that would to preempt local bans except in counties where local ordinances have already qualified for elections. The governor will convene a work group to address GMOs at the state level.
•  The governor will issue a letter stating he will sign none of the bills unless all bills make it to his desk.