Citizens panel says eliminate "corporate kicker"

Citizens panel says eliminate "corporate kicker"
Chris Rodgers of Eugene speaks to reporters about the new Citizens Initiative Review process outside the state Capitol in Salem, Ore., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. The panel of 24 citizens recommended by a 19-5 vote that Oregon voters support Measure 85, which would eliminate corporate tax rebates known as the "kicker." (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - A panel of citizens has recommended that Oregon voters eliminate "corporate kicker" tax rebates with a ballot measure this fall, even after the initiative's supporters declined to participate in the process.

The 24-member Citizens' Initiative Review Commission, a new board approved last year by the state Legislature, released its suggestion Friday after spending a week reviewing the issue.

Measure 85 would eliminate "kicker" tax rebates that businesses receive when corporate income tax collections exceed expectations. It would instead direct the money to schools. It would not affect the personal kicker that goes to individual taxpayers.

The panel voted 19-5 in favor of the initiative. The recommendation will appear in the voter pamphlet, along with arguments from the supporters and the opponents.

The initiative has been pushed by the union-backed group OurOregon. The organization's leaders declined to make their case to the review panel, saying it's a time-consuming process that doesn't sway voter opinions.

However, others made arguments to the panel in support, including making the point that there's "broad bipartisan agreement" that the kicker is not good public policy.

Opponents said in their statement there's no guarantee the money will actually improve school funding because the Legislature ultimately controls the budget. They also said it might create a perception that school funding issues have been solved, inhibiting future discussion of budget reforms.

Dawn Sieracki of Portland, one of the panelists who came out in support, said, "In an era when we can rely on talking heads and TV commercials, or the complicated ballot language, it's refreshing to be able to rely on the commentary of citizens who had a chance to investigate the measure in an in-depth manner."

She and others went back and forth over the issue throughout the week.

"It took me all week to arrive at being positive," said David McCarty of Oregon City.

The panelists came from around the state and were selected to match the state's demographic makeup.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.