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Economic Stimulus Package has Downside for Oregon

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 By Chris ThomasContact
February 11, 2008

Salem, OR – Oregon's gloomy state budget forecast could get even worse as a result of the new economic stimulus package. While the rebate checks for individual taxpayers are getting most of the attention, one Oregon group says the "bonus depreciation" tax breaks being given to businesses will cost the state $100 million. Chuck Sheketoff of the Oregon Center for Public Policy says it's a hit that comes at a bad time for the Oregon economy.

"The loss of $100 million is a lot of money if you look at the other things that Oregonians want, such as healthcare for children, more state troopers on the roads, and the like."

Sheketoff also notes that similar tax breaks were given to businesses in the 2001 recession, and they cost the state $90 million but didn't do much to improve the economy at the time. If state lawmakers take no action, he estimates the state will get some revenue back from taxing individual rebate checks, but not enough to offset the losses from bonus depreciation. The state forecast, which was released on Friday, did not take the stimulus package into account.

The problem, says Sheketoff, arises in Oregon because the state automatically uses the federal definition of 'taxable income,' meaning businesses will not only get a federal tax cut, they'll also get a state cut -- unless the Legislature acts.

"They're going to likely need a three-fifths majority in both houses of the Legislature to stop bonus depreciation. The business lobby, particularly the high-tech industry, has gone on record saying they want it. And whether the forecast is going to cool them off, I don't know."

Read more about the Oregon Center for Public Policy's analysis of the potential economic impact of the stimulus package at ww.ocpp.org.

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