How Much Will Small Businesses have to Pay for Oregon’s 2017 Legislative Session Priorities?

Date: February 15, 2017

Oregon’s 2017 legislative session began Feb. 1, laying out the state’s priorities with importance. However, the price tags are the most concerning issue to small businesses, according to NFIB/OR State Director Anthony K. Smith.

“The biggest question is what those priorities will cost for small business,” he says.

Smith wrote a column in the February 2017 Salem Business Journal where he examined two of the most important priorities on the table—the 2017 to 2019 state budget and a major transportation funding package. He also mentions that taxes remain at the heart of both these issues.

“Still, the legislature has the authority to impose taxes on individuals and businesses,” he writes. “Its task in the coming months will be to judiciously weigh the cost of state expenditures with the ability of taxpayers to meet those needs. When your job is to spend taxpayer money [for the benefit of the state and its people], it’s easy to focus on these needs and to forget about the burden tax increases have on those who are paying them.”

Previously, legislative leaders released their agenda of priorities for the 2017 legislative session, and small business received just one mention. Now add the issue of the state budget, and things could get even more difficult for them.

“For every controversial small business-related bill this year, we should be asking ourselves, ‘Will passing this bill help balance our budget or will it just further complicate the task?’ Every new law and every new regulation carries the potential to impact a business’ bottom line in a negative way,” Smith says.

“Every time the state increases a business owner’s costs, that means less profit, and in most cases, less income for the state to tax. For legislators whose top priority is raising revenue this year, they should keep this principle in mind.”

Oregon is facing a $1.8 billion budget shortfall in the coming biennium, according to Sen. Richard Devlin and Rep. Nancy Nathanson, co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. However, Smith says that the state is currently bringing in more revenue than it ever has before.

“In the next budget cycle, Oregon is expected to bring in about $1.5 billion more than the 2015-17 biennium,” he writes. “Yet here we are, at the beginning of another legislative session, having conversations about tax hikes and budget cuts, and spending even more.”

The pressing matter of the budget is something that, according to Smith, could potentially still be a problem long after the session is over.


Related Content: Small Business News | Economy | Oregon

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