Brown offers vision but no details at business summit



Brown offers vision but no details at business summit

Governor fails to reveal how state will make up her budget's $2 billion deficit at the Monday gathering.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown did not directly address the biggest question facing her administration when she appeared at the 2018 Oregon Leadership Summit on Monday morning — how she wants the 2019 Oregon Legislature to raise the additional $2 billion needed to balance the proposed budget she released last week.

Instead, Brown talked in general terms about the need for "more investments" in issues she prioritized in her proposed budget, including education, health care and climate action.

"Oregon is at a turning point," Brown said, noting that the state's current strong economy "gives us opportunities to make those investments now."

The lack of specifics was surprising because the three business organizations that sponsored the summit had all but proposed a deal on Brown's proposed budget. The Oregon Business Council, Oregon Business and Industry, and the Portland Business Alliance had drafted the 2018 Oregon Business Plan at the center of the summit. The most recent version of its annual proposed state business blueprint, it looks favorably at the Legislature diverting state "kicker" tax refunds into a reserve fund and enacting a "business activities tax" on corporate revenues, minus purchases from other firms.

But, the plan said, such revenue increases will do little good unless the Legislature also curtails projected Public Employees Retirement System premium increases that will consume much of them. According to the plan, the PERS burden is expected to double over the next four years.

"Oregonians should not experience rising taxes and prices simply to pay for added PERS costs," says the plan, which also calls state employee health care costs too high.

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