(Salem) House Bill 2825 to add more transparency to economic development projects that receive state funding was signed by Governor John Kitzhaber today. The measure was Co-Chief Sponsored by State Representative Kim Thatcher  (R-Keizer, Newberg, St. Paul) and State Representative Phil Barnhart  (D-Central Lane and Linn Counties). The bill enhances the current transparency website for the state budget (www.oregon.gov/transparency ) by adding a number of economic development programs which are funded with tax incentives. “We created the site in the last legislative session to show Oregonians how their tax dollars are being spent on all other state services, it just made sense to add these expenditures which cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Thatcher.
“As a business owner, I understand how government incentives can be helpful, but I also believe the taxpayers footing the bill have a right to know how their money is being spent,” added Thatcher. “This new accountability measure will add more accountability and help us figure out if these economic development programs are working.”
The list of programs covered by HB 2825 includes: Enterprise Zones, Reservation Enterprise Zones, Rural Renewable Energy Development Zones, Strategic Investment Program, Food Processing Equipment Abatement, Electronic Commerce Enterprise Zones, Film Production Development Contributions, Film Production Labor Rebate, Small City Business Development Credit (Oregon Investment Advantage), Long Term Enterprise Zone Facilities, and the manufacturing and renewable energy components of the Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC).
The new law requires reports to be posted to the website which will contain the name and address of the business receiving tax breaks, an explanation of why the tax incentive was granted, and whether the recipient met the outcomes expected by the various programs.
HB 2825 was approved by unanimous votes in both the Oregon House and Senate. Several business, taxpayer watchdog and consumer advocacy groups supported the measure.