Last year, Oregon took an important first step towards showing the public whether the hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent on corporate economic development tax subsidies are worth the money. House Bill 2825 went into effect at the close of 2011, requiring disclosure of twelve corporate tax subsidy programs estimated to cost taxpayers nearly $530 million in the 2011-2013 biennium.
Oregon lawmakers should be commended for their action. With scarce public dollars and a slowly recovering economy, taxpayers and lawmakers alike need access to clear information about these programs and their effectiveness.
However, OSPIRG Foundation’s analysis of the newly-required reporting found that Oregon has significant room to improve to give taxpayers the full picture.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision opened the floodgates to corporate influence in our political system by allowing corporations to pour money from their treasuries into the campaign coffers of political candidates. This report examines one area of policymaking where corporate money already had an enormous impact even before that decision: tax law.