Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer on her vote against the Nike bill
Why I voted NO on HB 4200, the Economic Investment Impact Act of 2012
"This was a hard vote. I am deeply appreciative of the public, who on short notice communicated their thoughts by email, phone, and personal testimony. I thank my many legislative colleagues--including those on the Special Committee on Economic Development--who worked into the wee hours to incorporate feedback and improve the bill. I will list the positive aspects of HB 4200 before explaining why I ultimately voted against it.
I respect the Governor's efforts over many decades to promote innovative solutions to Oregon's challenges. I am in favor of developing economic tools--including giving companies willing to expand in Oregon predictability about their tax structure--to promote job growth. We need to act expeditiously as well as prudently to balance the short-term needs of recovering from a recession, as well as our long-term needs. We need family wage jobs to fund education, public services, and infrastructure.
I appreciate Nike's unique history in Oregon, and I welcome its planned expansion of at least 500 new jobs and $150 million in capital investment. Our State benefits from the high quality jobs Nike offers in Oregon, the taxes it directly and indirectly generates, its environmental and diversity initiatives, and its corporate, foundation and employee donations to the community. I support working constructively with Nike and other companies to help them grow and invest in our State.
Some of the HB 4200 amendments that my colleagues and I advocated for did increase corporate accountability, reporting requirements, and transparency. I strongly support the change in the bill's sunset from ten years to one year, allowing the Legislature more thoughtful debate during the 2013 Regular Session.
However the following concerns compelled me to vote No:
My strong preference would have been to consider this bill in the Regular Session in the context of comprehensive revenue reform. Given the State's perceived need to handle this bill on an emergency basis, I wish the Special Session had been announced several weeks--rather than four days--before the vote, allowing for a more thorough vetting of the bill's implications.
Truncated processes can erode people's faith in democracy and weaken public policy outcomes. In this case, questions remain about whether this bill achieved balance and fairness in seeking to promote the public good. I am concerned about certain provisions in this bill, and the precedent it sets.
While I would like more specific language around family wage jobs, checks and balances, and overall transparency, the biggest remaining barrier for me was 30-year guarantee on corporate tax structure in return for a company's 5-year commitment to jobs and capital investment. HB 4200 permits a deal that could allow a company to sell its property and downsize its workforce after 5 years, yet requires Oregon to honor its end of the bargain for the following 25 years.
I believe that contract duration should reflect the principle of reciprocity: corporate benefits should roughly match corporate obligations. In addition, the economic landscape may be very different in 10-15 years, with new economic tools that better balance job growth incentives, state fiscal health, and fairness to all taxpayers. A different public revenue structure may obviate the need for this tool.
Tying up the tax structure for 30 years, when our children are in our place making these decisions, strikes me as shortsighted. I worry that the 30-year duration in HB 4200 becomes a precedent for 2013 legislation, potentially affecting a greater number of companies and further compromising our ability to implement comprehensive tax reform. We owe current and future Oregonians the ability to evaluate comprehensive policies to promote the public good."
From an e-mail to her constituents on December 21, 2012.