Funding our priorities


Representative Tina Kotek
D-North/NE Portland
District 44

Phone: 503-986-1444    900 Court St. NE, H-269, Salem Oregon 97301
Email:     Website:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This week’s tragic events in Boston are a sobering reminder that life is unpredictable.  We are reminded of the need to keep our loved ones close and focus on what’s really important.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted by the immoral deeds of a few.

My colleagues and I here in Salem strive daily to do good work for the people of Oregon and stay focused on the big picture. This week we crossed the halfway point in the 2013 Legislative Session.  This afternoon I will head to Bend with the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee for the biennial Ways and Means “roadshow” of public hearings across the state.  The committee visits different locations to provide Oregonians an opportunity to share their priorities for the state budget.  After this evening’s hearing in Bend, we’ll be in Hermiston on Saturday and also take testimony via video conference from residents in La Grande.  I’m looking forward to getting away from the Capitol to hear what’s on peoples’ minds. 

Budget hearings come to Portland

The Ways and Means Committee will come to Portland on Tuesday evening, so you will have your opportunity to share your thoughts.  Anyone who wants can sign up and then speak for up to two minutes on their priorities for the state budget.  Is it schools?  Community colleges and universities?  Public safety?  Services for low-income children, seniors and people with disabilities?  Come to Portland Community College on Tuesday evening to let us know.  Details are as follows:

Tuesday, April 23
5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Moriarty Arts & Humanities Auditorium
Portland Community College, Cascades Campus
705 N. Killingsworth Street, Portland

Cutting tax breaks to fund schools

We took a step toward stable funding for public schools and other vital services earlier this week, as the House Revenue Committee passed an amended version of House Bill 2456, which reduces tax breaks for wealthy households and corporations.  The Legislature needs to raise $275 million in revenue in order to budget an additional $1 billion for schools.  We must reach that number if we’re to stop the teacher layoffs and cuts to school days that our state has been subjected to over the last five years.

House Bill 2456 is a balanced combination of personal and corporate tax changes. It targets personal income tax breaks that affect 2.4% of taxpayers (individual filers with taxable income of $125,000/joint filers $250,000).  The bill eliminates the personal exemption credit ($183 dollars per person) and reduces personal income tax deductions for wealthy individuals and households.  Deductions for charitable contributions are not affected.

The legislation cracks down on off-shore tax havens and removes the arbitrary cap on the corporate minimum tax for Oregon sales over $100 million. The amendment adds a modest increase in the corporate income tax rate to 7.9% (an increase of 0.3 percentage points) on corporate profits over $2.5 million, House Bill 2456 improves tax fairness for small businesses and middle-class families and eliminates some accounting maneuvers that allow a very small number of large corporations to abuse our tax code.  Oregon tax payers and small businesses can’t set up tax shelters in Bermuda or Bahrain to avoid paying the taxes they owe; when we pass this bill, large corporations won’t be able to either. 

The House Revenue Committee took several days of testimony to finalize the bill, responding to input from small business owners, education advocates, and the nonprofit community.   I think the committee has put forward a very strong bill.   Most importantly, it is a needed step toward stabilizing our schools.  I expect this bill to be voted on by the House the middle of next week.

Championing air quality

Since last year, my office has been working closely with residents and the group Neighbors for Clean Air to help to address air quality concerns in North Portland, particularly as they pertain to businesses on Swan Island.  Studies have shown that point-source air pollution is not the major cause of poor air quality in our community (automobile and truck emissions are), but episodic and discernible upticks in industrial air pollutants need to be monitored and addressed in a systemic manner.

I am focusing on a three-pronged strategy on air quality.  First, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office, I’m working to convene a community dialogue and ongoing conversation between Swan Island businesses and residents in North Portland (including the University of Portland) on how to monitor and ameliorate nuisance odors affecting neighborhoods on the bluff.  Second, I have encouraged the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to review and assess its nuisance odor rules and procedures.  That process has begun.

Lastly, earlier this month, I joined with Reps. Mitch Greenlick and Jules Bailey, and Sen. Jackie Dingfelder, on behalf of Neighbors for Clean Air, to introduce House Bill 3492, which would add air emissions to the Toxics Use Reduction Program.  That discussion is ongoing, with the House Energy and Environment Committee moving the bill yesterday to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration. 

It has been a privilege to work with neighbors and Neighbors for Clean Air to improve air quality in Portland.  This is a complicated issue, but a very important one if we are to protect the balance between good-paying industrial jobs and livable neighborhoods. 

As always, it is a pleasure to represent you.


State Representative Tina Kotek

Speaker of the House

District 44