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GOP skips work again, school funding standoff continues

Politics

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — The standoff between Democrats and Republicans in Salem continues over a bill to provide more money for education.

The 45-page bill would allow a new tax on some businesses to provide more education funding. But the so-called Student Success Act is stalled while Senate Republicans remain out of the state Capitol, denying a quorum and thereby effectively grinding any and all legislative activity to a halt.

Republicans in the Oregon Senate have skipped out on an education tax vote for 3 consecutive days. Only one Republican appeared on the Senate floor Thursday morning denying the chamber enough members to go through with a vote.

Republicans want to go back to the drawing table on a multibillion-dollar tax on Oregon’s wealthiest businesses. They say they won’t support any funding that doesn’t address the state’s public pension debt.

The GOP members call the Student Success Act a sales tax that was rejected by voters in the past. The measure is designed to raise $2 billion every 2 years for Oregon schools, but the sticking point is where that money comes from. 

This tax measure would be an addition to the money schools currently get — but right now this tax measure is on hold.

Businesses would have to pay just over a half-percent tax on sales in Oregon over $1 million. The first $1 million in sales would be exempt, and they would get to deduct part of their labor or production costs.

State budget experts claim it would impact about 40,000 businesses — out of almost 500,000 businesses.

Democratic lawmakers said the tax would provide a steady, reliable stream of money to fund schools.

Minority Senate Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr., said negotiations with Senate President Peter Courtney have not progressed.
    
The Republican from Grants Pass said in a statement that conservatives may have started the stand-off, but “the Democrats have prolonged it.”
    
Two plans on how to handle the state’s $25 billion pension liability are set to be released early Friday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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