We cant be motivated by fear
Election day is fast approaching, and this year economic security is the most important issue on the table. It's not the only issue of course, but without economic security none of our other issues can be solved. Or stated slightly differently, for Oregonians who lose their house or job, or both, none of the other issues will matter.
In my lifetime I have seen only one other event, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, so critical that it requires all of us to be on the same page with the same sense of dogged perseverance. And while it's difficult to get all to agree on a singular response to anything, it is important that policy makers address the issue with good faith, humility and a commitment to place the public good ahead of party or personal ambition.
Our legislature has done important things to help Oregon mitigate the situation. Oregon has been a leader in policies that promote innovation and job creation in our high-tech and renewable energy industries. Our strategic invest plan and business energy tax credit tools create and sustain well-paying traded sector jobs. And our enterprise zone laws give a competitive boost to areas in Oregon hardest hit by economic problems.
Yet much still must be done. Our tax credit system must be revamped to foster all of Oregon's traded sector industries - high tech, biotech, life sciences, nanotech and renewable energy. Further, our construction and real estate sectors are badly damaged and in need of bold solutions to keep them solvent. No bailouts or subsidies, just creative policies to help spur nascent demand.
Small and home-based businesses, the bread and butter of Oregon's economy, need help. For these firms traditional bank credit is increasingly difficult to obtain. To address this, Oregon should adopt a small business 'bridge' plan. A bridge plan would allow small and emerging businesses the option to defer state income taxes for two years, then pay back those taxes with interest over the next four. This policy would help provide working capital for small firms when they need it the most.
Our overall state tax structure needs comprehensive reform to encourage job creation and investment, while smoothing the business cycle's roller-coaster effects. Oregon's taxes on work, savings and investment are too high. Our income and capital gain tax rates hurt Oregon's competitiveness, and hurt working Oregonians. In addition to tax reform we should also consider a substantial expansion of Oregon's child tax credit, currently only $179 per child, to help families manage food, gas and healthcare cost inflation.
Most importantly in the short term, we need an aggressive marketing campaign to bring new business and job opportunities to Oregon. The governor should promote and lead a massive 'Oregon Wants Your Business' campaign. In addition to an aggressive multi-media campaign, we need the governor to be on a plane five days a week marketing Oregon around the nation and around the world to attract jobs and investment. There's not a single business executive in the nation, or likely even the world, who would not accept an appointment request from a sitting American governor. Our governor is Oregon's best salesman, he's elected to do the job, and the Legislature must give him the support and strategic funding necessary to make his efforts a success.
Our economic situation is frightening, but we should not be motivated by fear. Oregon is well positioned to withstand the economic storm - and even create new opportunities - as long as state and local leaders roll up their sleeves and get it done.
Rep. Scott Bruun, West Linn, represents Oregon House District 37, a portion of which is in southern Lake Oswego.