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.