This Tuesday, the Washington County Commission and the Hillsboro City Council will vote on a 30-year tax break deal for Intel. It’s a big commitment for a lot of jobs for our community for a long time; it’s also a $2 billion tax break on a $100 billion investment. This is a massive arrangement that demands scrutiny to make sure it meets a basic standard—that it leaves Oregon stronger in 30 years than we are today.
Intel’s agreement requires it to pay taxes and fees on all of its property and buildings. That should be good news for our community and especially our schools. But, because of the way the deal was made, Intel pays fees and taxes but schools get less than their fair share. Each year under this deal, our schools lose $4.2 million more a year than they can afford. What’s worse, because this deal includes a controversial state program called Gain Share, the costs to kids go up another $14-$15 million.
If we simply changed the way this deal is structured, Intel could pay the same amount but we could get almost $19 million a year to classrooms around the state.
[Email the commission now and ask for a better deal for schools]
The true test of a good deal is whether both sides—the company and the community—are better after the deal than before it. If we keep cutting school kids out, Oregon can’t benefit the way we should.
Improving schools is one part of the challenge, but there are some long-term changes that need to happen to the way tax deals get made.
First, this deal is for 30 years. That’s a long time, especially in the high tech industry. Originally, there was a cap on these sorts of deals of 15 years—the Commission and the Council should restore that cap so each tax break agreement has the public scrutiny it deserves.
Moreover, we deserve more time. The details of this deal were largely hammered out without any input from the public. Worse, a vote on this massive tax break is scheduled to happen as early as this Tuesday, before the public has had a chance to examine and evaluate its impacts on the county and our schools.
Oregon already has the third largest class sizes in the country and Washington County schools are struggling more than most. A tax break of this size must be written in a way that protects our schools and our communities from further harm.
A lot of work needs to be done to make sure that this new $2 billion tax break doesn’t harm our schools even further. Please take a minute to email the Washington County Commissioners and urge them to:
• Give the community more time and more transparency to examine this tax deal. Commissioners and councilors should postpone their vote until we’ve had a chance to examine all the facts. There’s no need to rush into this.
• Cut the length of the tax break to 15 years. Three decades is an unreasonable length of time for a tax break this large. We should be able to reevaluate it after 15 years.
• Ensure that schools get a fair deal. Without the right safeguards in place, local schools could lose out on millions of dollars in critical funding.
Go here now to send the commission an email and ask for a deal that works for everyone.