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Let your kicker kick off giving

My View • State checks are opportunity to give something back
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Many of you have received kicker checks in the mail this week, your share of a record $1.1 billion individual tax rebate. During this season of sharing, I would like to encourage everyone to think about how to invest those dollars in the community to make the world a better place for our children and ourselves. According to the Oregon Department of Revenue, about 1.7 million Oregonians will receive checks averaging a little over $600 per tax filer. Rather than spend our entire windfall on ourselves, my wife and I have decided to donate a portion of our kicker to Jefferson High School’s Young Men’s Academy and the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross. These worthwhile community programs help youths and those suffering from disasters, and they help strengthen our community’s social infrastructure for future generations of Portlanders. It’s also worth remembering at this time of year that, while individual giving is critical, it’s important for the business community to do its part to help as well. The Portland Business Alliance recently honored Portland General Electric Chief Executive Officer and President Peggy Fowler in recognition of the years of consistent support PGE has shown to programs such as SMART (Start Making a Reader Today); Solv, which works to protect Oregon’s environment; and the American Heart Association. While we’re on the subject of kickers and giving back to the community, we should note that, with the exception of small businesses, Oregon corporations will not be getting a kicker check this year. Organizations such as Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon Business Association, Oregon Business Council and the Portland Business Alliance agreed during the last legislative session to dedicate this year’s corporate kicker check to the establishment of a rainy day fund for the state’s general fund. In essence, Oregon companies decided to donate their $300 million kicker check back to the state to protect critical programs such as health care, public safety, education and veterans’ services during economic downturns. The rainy day fund is perhaps one of the most critical investments we can make as a state in protecting the programs that serve the most vulnerable in our community. It is a safety net for the safety net. So as you open your kicker check, consider investing some of it in a program or organization that will help strengthen the community, build families, educate children and make Portland a better place for all of us. Sam Brooks is the president of Brooks Staffing and chairman of the Portland Business Alliance.