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Bloomberg BNA recently posed a series of tax-centric questions to the Republican and Democrat candidates for governor in Oregon. Below are the responses from Republican candidate Bud Pierce.
Interview by Paul Shukovsky
Dr. Bud Pierce (R), a long-time hematologist/oncologist in the state capital city of Salem, announced his candidacy for Oregon governor in September 2015. A former president of the Oregon Medical Association, Pierce participated in negotiating and writing legislation addressing medical liability. He has served on the boards of several Salem-area nonprofits such as United Way, the Salem Hospital Foundation and the Salem Cancer Institute.
What are your priorities related to state and local tax, if elected?
My focus is almost entirely on state issues. Our state government has enough problems to solve without its gubernatorial candidates inserting them into local issues. On state income taxes, I am committed to cutting the tax rate for low- and moderate-income Oregonians. I’m also committed to providing greater tax relief for low- and moderate-income Oregonians paying off college debt.
I also want to look at tax changes to support and nurture Oregon small businesses. I plan to limit or eliminate tax breaks for the wealthy and well-connected, most especially the energy tax credits that contributed to Oregon’s costly experiment in crony capitalism.
What existing state and local tax measures or initiatives would you seek to support? Or curb? Please include Measure 97 in your answer.
As I said, my focus is almost entirely on state issues. As such, my sole tax focus on the initiative front is Measure 97. This $6-billion tax increase must be defeated because, as the nonpartisan state economists have stated, this regressive tax on Oregon sales will increase the cost of goods and services for Oregon households by $600 a year and eliminate more than 38,000 private-sector jobs across the state.
What is the biggest hurdle you foresee to enacting your major tax-related initiatives?
Possible Democratic super-majorities in the Oregon Legislature that will resist tax cuts for working Oregonians because they’re unwilling to limit government spending, reform PERS and say “no” to their friends and funders in Oregon’s government employee unions.
What is the biggest challenge you see facing Oregon from a tax and revenue perspective, in light of current and evolving market conditions?
There’s no one “biggest” challenge. There are three: One, is Measure 97, which will cost tens of thousands of Oregon private-sector jobs, will make Oregonians poorer by driving up costs by $600 per household per year, and make Oregon a less appealing place to do business.
Two, is the $21.8 billion unfunded PERS liability, which, if left unaddressed, will lead to cuts in teachers and other critical government services.
Three, a severe national economic downturn that will lead to lower state revenue and increased spending on social safety-net programs.
Do you believe your state has the right balance right now in terms of overall taxes? Does anything need to be re-balanced?
No tax system is perfect, but there’s one constant across all government revenue systems—there are never enough taxpayer dollars for those who refuse to reform the government, making it lean, and productive and efficient, and placing it squarely in service to the people. Oregon has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and has for the last three decades. That’s where the real imbalance is at the current time.
To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Shukovsky in Seattle at PShukovsky@bna.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan C. Tuck at firstname.lastname@example.org
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