Keeping the kicker

By Jayson Jacoby / The Baker City Herald

This isn't the year for the Oregon Legislature to ask voters to change the unique income tax "kicker" clause in the state Constitution.

The kicker, passed by the Legislature in 1979, requires the state, when state income tax revenues exceed state projections by more than 2 percent, to refund the excess to people and to corporations.

Currently, lawmakers are considering a bill that would ask voters to

eliminate the corporate kicker (the refunds would go to the university

system instead) and cut in half the refunds taxpayers would receive.

The other half would be diverted to a rainy day fund.

The Legislature should focus on balancing the state's budget, not

trying to extract more money from taxpayers during some blissful

economic future.

We've already tried the rainy day route with kicker money - in 2007 the

Legislature suspended the corporate kicker and kept the $344 million.

Yet the state is still $3.5 billion short.

The key point is that the Legislature can keep the kicker now - canceling refunds requires a two-thirds vote.

Lawmakers should have to justify such a decision to their constituents.

Asking voters to amend the Constitution and create a sort of rescue

savings account, by contrast, excuses the Legislature, in part, from

the tough work of running this state in a fiscally responsible manner.

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The Baker City Herald
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