It’s a familiar scene for many families across Oregon: each month you sit down at the kitchen table to pay your bills. Then, you carefully analyze your family’s budget to determine how much money is coming in and how much is leaving. You decide where to put your hard-earned resources based on what your family needs most. When you go shopping, you consider each item carefully because in this economy, every purchase matters. Do you buy the extra items to the detriment of other things or do you make sure to leave enough for this month’s daycare bill?
The Oregon Legislature faces a similar choice in the coming weeks as it determines which tax credits to keep and which ones to dump.
Included in that choice is whether or not to keep reimbursing counties for the property tax breaks they give away – to one county in particular. In 2014 alone, the state of Oregon reimbursed Washington County to the tune of $37.8 million. That money came out of the state’s general fund, which is also used to fund services for kids, seniors, and people with developmental disabilities. The full program will cost the state of Oregon $95 million dollars over the next two years, unless lawmakers act.
At the same time, lawmakers are deciding whether or not to improve several family-friendly tax credits that impact thousands of Oregonians. Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer has proposed the renewal and expansion of two tax credits, which help families with costs like childcare. Her plan would combine the two credits into one new and improved tax credit that would allow low-income families to get back even more of the taxes they pay to the state and let them put that money toward the things their families need most.
There’s also another proposal to expand the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit program specifically for families with young children. Expanding EITC would mean hundreds of dollars more per year for struggling families.
With limited funds up for grabs, the legislature must choose where to spend the general fund dollars: on tax credits that help families pay for vital services like child care or for one county’s corporate tax breaks. If this were your family, which would you choose?