It's Budget Writing Time in the State Capitol
Please help us! Just follow these steps:
- Enter your address on this form to ID your State Representative (look under the “House” tab).
- Call their phone number and urge them to a) cosponsor HB 2681, the bill to extend RETC, and b) tell the Oregon House Speaker that they support extending RETC.
- If you do this, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
With less than eight weeks left in Oregon’s legislative session, the legislature passed another significant benchmark on Tuesday: The State Economist presented May’s quarterly economic forecast to state legislators. The forecast provides the final estimate of revenue which legislators may allocate as they craft the next state budget. Projected revenues are up $186 million, which reduces the anticipated state budget deficit from $1.6 billion to $1.4 billion. State Economist McMullen said that Oregon’s economy continues to grow, but at a slower pace than in previous quarters.
What does that have to do with OSEIA’s legislative priorities? Well, OSEIA’s top priority is extending the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC). RETC brings numerous benefits to Oregon households and the solar energy and energy efficiency industries. But it also costs the states roughly $15 million dollars per year. With such a large budget deficit to fill, any state program that costs money is potentially on the chopping block.
Legislative leaders hope to fill the budget deficit with a major change in Oregon’s tax law. Their plan would replace the corporate income tax with a new Corporate Activities Tax—it would tax a broader base of businesses at a lower tax rate. The result, they say, will be a more stable tax base over time and more overall net revenue. If they can’t built a consensus for that proposal among the required 3/5ths of legislators, they must fill the budget gap through some combination of smaller revenue increases and cuts to state services. But if they do that, they’ll face an even bigger budget deficit, upwards of $3 billion, in the next legislative session.
So it’s budget writing time in the legislature. Regardless of how the legislature resolves the budget, with many priorities competing for scarce state dollars, OSEIA must ensure RETC stands out. Most recently, we’ve been urging legislators to show their support for RETC by cosponsoring the RETC bill.