I hope your new year is off to a good start.My staff and I are busily preparing for the upcoming Special Session next month.Please read below to find out what I’ll be working on in February.
I am still accepting resumes for unpaid internship positions in my Salem office during the February session.If you know anyone who may be interested, please forward this email to them and have them contact my office ASAP.There is a brief job description at the end of the newsletter.Thanks!
Don’t Forget to Vote – Election Day is Tuesday!
The deadline to vote in the special election on Measures 66 and 67 is this coming Tuesday, January 26th.All ballots must be returned to the Multnomah County Board of Elections by 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
At this point, dropping off your ballot is the best way to make sure your vote is counted.In addition to drop sites at all Multnomah County libraries, there is very convenient 24-hour drop box at the Goodwill Store at 3134 North Lombard.To find your closest ballot drop site, click here.
If you have not received your ballot or have any questions about voting, call the Multnomah County Board of Elections at 503-988-3720.
Measures 66 and 67 I have spent a lot of time in the past week focused on the Department of Human Services budget, working to compile a heartbreaking list of potential budget cuts in the event that Measures 66 and 67 do not pass next Tuesday.I wanted to take this opportunity to share some information with you about these measures.
Last year, the global economic crisis hampered Oregon’s ability to fund schools, health care and public safety due to a $4 billion budget hole – nearly 25 percent of the total budget. During the 2009 Session, the Legislature took the following actions to fill the gap:we cut the state’s general fund budget by about $2 billion, we tapped into federal stimulus revenues and state reserves for help, and we passed two targeted tax increases to make up the remaining 20 percent of the budget hole.
Those two tax increases were referred to voters as Measures 66 and 67.The measures, if passed, will continue to provide about $730 million to fund education, health care and public safety for the current two-year budget. Nearly 93% of Oregon’s General Fund is dedicated to these three critical areas of services and programs.
Measure 66 raises state income taxes only on household incomes above $250,000.If your joint household income is less than $250,000 a year, your tax rate will not change. The tax rate increases 1.8 percentage points on amounts of taxable income between $250,000 and $500,000 for households, and 2 percentage points on amounts above $500,000 for households. For individual filers, the thresholds are $125,000 and $250,000. In addition, Measure 66 eliminates income taxes on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009, which will give tax relief to over 270,000 Oregonians.
Measure 67 updates the $10 corporate minimum, unchanged since 1931, with a sliding rate equal to about one-tenth of one percent of Oregon revenue. The measure sets the minimum at $150 for corporations with revenue below $500,000, and caps it for corporations with revenue above $100 million. The new tiered corporate minimum applies only to C corporations. Other types of businesses, like S-corps, partnerships and LLCs will pay only the $150 minimum. Sole proprietorships will pay no new taxes under Measure 67, and about 85% of other business will pay just $150.
Measure 67 also increases the tax rate on corporate profits above $250,000 by 1.3% until 2011. In 2013, the rate returns to the current 6.6% on all profits below $10 million; profits above $10 million will continue to be taxed at 7.6%. Starting in 2013, collections resulting from corporate rates above 6.6% will be dedicated exclusively to the Oregon Rainy Day Fund.
My Priorities in February
We all know times are tough for a lot of folks, so my number one priority during the special session is to focus on the economy and assistance for Oregonians in need.I believe it’s our job to make the economic landscape easier for people as the state recovers from the recession.
That’s why I’m co-sponsoring the Job Applicant Fairness Act (Senate Bill 1045) with Senator Diane Rosenbaum.This bill will restrict the use of pre-employment credit checks by employers. Employment experts report that 60 percent of companies now check a job applicant’s credit history before making a hiring decision.Under current Oregon law, it is legal to base hiring decisions on this information.Credit history is not a valid predictor for job performance or honesty, and we want to remove all potential barriers to employment for Oregonians. The Willamette Week named this a "Smart Bill" for the session. Please contact my office if you've had any experience with being turned down for a job based on your credit history.We will be moving quickly to pass this bill in February and we can use your help!
To continue my work on connecting health and learning, I’m using my one personal bill this session to create a pilot program to promote comprehensive vision screenings in Oregon’s schools (House Bill 3626).Although Oregon public schools are required by administrative rule to provide vision screenings to their students, many students are not receiving regular screenings.Approximately 80 percent of a child's learning is done visually.Studies indicate that 60 percent of children with learning difficulties have vision problems that often go unidentified. The lack of comprehensive vision screenings for students in Oregon leaves many children with undiagnosed vision problems that prevent them from learning, and in many cases can lead to behavior problems. My bill establishes a pilot program for implementing comprehensive vision screenings in schools.If passed, the legislation would go into effect immediately, culminating in a report to the Legislature by March 2011.Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a better approach to vision screening around the state, enabling more students to reach their full potential.
Click here to check out all of the bills being introduced in February.
Internship Opportunity in the Capitol
The February Special Session will be particularly fast-paced.This is a great opportunity to see policymaking and politics up close and personal.I’m looking for individuals willing to commit to 10 to 20 hours a week in the Salem office during February.These are unpaid internship positions.My office can help coordinate carpooling to Salem.Intern duties will include providing general office support, responding to constituent emails, attending committee hearings, doing research, and generally helping us pass good bills.If you are interested in this opportunity, please send a resume and cover letter to my Legislative Aide, Alex Berke, by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26th.You can reach Alex at email@example.com.
Thank you for reading. Please don't hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns.
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