Revenue plan work builds toward Student Success Act vote
Monday, April 22, 2019
Public testimony Thursday night showed Joint Committee on Student Success Co-Chairs Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (second from left) and Sen. Arnie Roblan (right) that the proposed Student Success Act has wide public support as well as support from educators. (Photo by Richard Donovan, OSBA)
Many legislators are hoping last week’s tax talk will lead to a Student Success Act vote this week.
On Tuesday, April 16, the Joint Committee on Student Success held the first hearing on its proposal to raise $2 billion a budget period in new revenue for the Student Success Act, known as the -1 amendments to HB 3427. Legislative Revenue Officer Chris Allanach talked the committee through the amendments and also provided a summary document to clear away some of the confusing legal language.
The revenue would be raised with a modified commercial activity tax of 0.49% on business receipts above $1 million, with a 25% deduction for inputs or labor costs. Agricultural activity and most groceries would be exempt from the tax. To offset the potential downstream cost increases for consumers, there would be a modest personal income tax decrease for most Oregonians.
On Thursday, April 18, the committee took public testimony on the revenue proposal. Over the course of two and a half hours, the committee heard strong responses from proponents and opponents of the plan.
“This is the right plan at the right time,” OSBA Board President Tass Morrison (North Santiam School Board) told the committee in written testimony. “It embraces Oregonians’ consistent support for a strong education system and their willingness to pay for it.”
Supporters included educators, nurses, health care industry professionals, businesspeople and parents.
Post-secondary advocates, including community college advocates, asked the committee to also increase funding for post-secondary education, something that has been previously declared off-limits to the committee.
Some business owners, industry representatives and citizens expressed concerns with the tax increase.
The remaining question on everyone’s mind now: What’s next? The answer is unclear. The committee is expected to vote on the bill this week, probably Thursday, April 25. The bill would likely pass the committee, where the majority Democrats almost certainly all support it. Some Republican members, however, continue to express concern with the bill's proposed costs.
If it passes, the bill would go to the House floor, where it would be constitutionally required to get a three-fifths supermajority (36 “yes” votes) for passage to the Senate.
The agenda for this week is vague, leaving some uncertainty about the expected vote, but the work will go on.
“Everybody plan to be here Tuesday and Thursday next week,” Committee Co-Chair Rep. Barbara Smith Warner said just before adjourning the Thursday meeting.