Political Contribution Credit – Oregon 2019 HB2134 Testimony

To: House Committee on Rules, Oregon Legislative Assembly

Re: HB2134 Extends sunset of income tax credit for political contributions.

The Oregon political contribution credit (PCC) should sunset and the funds distributed proportionally to political parties instead.

The PCC favors the wealthy:

  • The PCC is not refundable, so only filers with taxable income can use it, tilting the political playing field toward the interests of the upper-middle class.
  • Of the 149,160 Oregonians using the PCC in 2016, 75% of the revenue impact was received by tax filers with incomes of $52,400 and above (2019-2021 Oregon Tax Expenditure Report, pages 191-192).
  • Only a small proportion of Oregonians (7.3%) compared to the 2,051,448 voters who returned ballots in the 2016 General Election used the PCC (Oregon Secretary of State, Official Voter Registration and Turnout Statistics, November 8, 2016).

Proportional funding of political parties would level the playing field and check private money by:

  • Diluting the influence of all types of private campaign money, including independent expenditures, self-financed candidates, and donations to ballot measure campaigns that contribution limits can’t legally restrain under the U.S. Constitution.
  • Reducing the cost of all campaigns in Oregon and lowering campaigns’ dependence on contributions.
  • Boosting voter turnout statewide through get-out-the-vote mobilization efforts by political parties to increase their revenue. Consistently high turnout weakens the influence of private money on election outcomes.
  • Fostering greater responsiveness of political parties to voter concerns.
  • Providing a substantial source of funds to political parties that greatly diminishes party reliance on political contributions.
  • Not requiring a state constitutional amendment like contribution limits would.

My proportional party funding legislative proposal for Oregon is available at: www.wanty.com/oregon-party-funding/