More Subsidy Disclosure Coming in Oregon

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winThis week our friends at OSPIRG scored another major win for subsidy transparency and accountability. OSPIRG, which played a central role in getting the state to adopt tax credit disclosure in 2011, is now bringing transparency to another key subsidy, the Strategic Investment Program (SIP).  SIP exempts many of Oregon’s largest and richest companies (especially Intel) from property taxes, based on agreements that those companies will be creating jobs.

Business Oregon, the state’s economic development arm, recently denied an open records request by OSPIRG to provide details about the state’s SIP deals.  OSPIRG then appealed to the state Department of Justice, which decided in favor of transparency and ordered Business Oregon to release records of the deals by next week.  The economic development agency is expected to comply.

While Good Jobs First has successfully obtained some types of SIP subsidy details in the past, the public has never had access to information about what exactly companies are promising in return for the special tax breaks.  Citing the program’s $322 million biennial cost, Celeste Meiffren of OSPIRG stated that “disclosure of information about SIP and all other economic development tax expenditures is important because taxpayers need to be able to track their return on investment.”

Way to go, OSPIRG!

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