There are a number of key issues that will be debated this session, but none will be bigger than addressing the majority party’s goal of raising $2 billion in new revenue for Oregon’s school system. After a year-long tour of the state, the Joint Committee on Student Success will continue to meet throughout the session to develop a revenue package that will garner support from the necessary super majority of members in each chamber. To do that, it will be necessary to make significant changes to the state tax code, with much of the focus continuing to center around raising the business tax, either by pivoting to a gross receipts tax (Measure 97 – 2016) or simply hiking existing rates.
Two other major policy issues that AOC will engage in this session include Cap and Trade legislation and housing policy. The Cap and Trade bill likely to emerge in the next week after being worked on over the past two years, is considered to be close to the version that will move out of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction (another interim committee that has stayed in place for the long session). One of the major unanswered questions with the bill is how the transportation sector will be addressed. Counties have a vested interest in seeing new revenues deposited into the Highway Trust Fund and being used in a legally defensible way to improve the resiliency of our highways, roads, streets and bridges. As for housing, the Governor has proposed an ambitious $400 million package of new spending on housing programs. In addition, the legislature is likely to push forward and make Oregon the first state in the U.S. to enact rent control, a push that should come early in the session.
AOC will engage vigorously on the over one-thousand bills that impact county government. We track more bills than any other association in Oregon, because counties simply deliver more services than anyone else. AOC will engage heavily on a number of health and human service priorities, including any CCO-related legislation, Behavioral Health Reinvestment, Public Health Modernization and other initiatives. We will continue our partnership with the Oregon Judicial Department on courthouse improvement projects, advocate for current service level funding for the successful Justice Reinvestment Initiative program, defend counties statutory right to 2.5 percent of all video lottery receipts, look for opportunities to increase our local land use authority, along with a laundry list of other important issues!
We look forward to communicating with our members and partners throughout the next five months!
Contributed by: Mike Eliason | AOC Interim Executive Director, Legislative Director