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New Governors' Agendas 2011: John Kitzhaber, Oregon

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is focusing on everything from business taxes to education to ensure a sustainable economic future for the Beaver State.

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How will the state continue to serve its existing industry?
Kitzhaber: I have made a strong commitment to grow Oregon's existing industrial sector by showing leadership in three areas: state leadership that welcomes growth in this important business sector, leadership that understands the importance of a balanced economy for our longer-term prospects, and state leadership that addresses the growing costs of state government. Oregon's industrial sector can count on all three from my administration.

As noted above, I have also proposed increased funding for key business development tools and programs, including vital export assistance grants, to help Oregon companies find more markets for their products.

In addition, my website now directs business owners to resources that can help them grow their business and create jobs for Oregonians. My website also provides a comprehensive list of business-friendly resources offered by various levels of government. The programs include direct loans, loan guarantees, tax-exempt conduit bonds, and brownfield redevelopment loans.

In today's economic environment, what is your administration's policy on financial incentives to business?
Kitzhaber: Oregon intends to compete and win in a global economy. In order to do so, we will offer a reasonable set of business development incentives designed to showcase Oregon's strengths as a place to locate and grow a business.

In addition to our existing business development incentives, I recently proposed funding a new payroll-based incentive designed to retain, expand, and attract globally competitive, knowledge-based companies to our state. The Oregon Business Retention and Expansion Program (BEP) incentive would be based on increases in personal income tax revenue that accompanies new hires from expanded or relocated projects.

This new incentive would join Oregon's suite of existing, globally competitive tax incentives, which include:
Standard Enterprise Zones - In exchange for locating or expanding into an enterprise zone, eligible (generally nonretail) businesses receive exemption from property taxes on new plants and equipment for at least three years (but up to five years) in the standard program.

The Oregon Investment Advantage - This income tax exemption program helps businesses start or locate in most Oregon counties with a 10-year waiver on all income/excise taxes related to those operations, potentially avoiding state business tax liability for that period.

Strategic Investment Program - Oregon's Strategic Investment Program exempts a portion of large capital investments from property taxes. The program is available statewide for projects developed by traded-sector businesses and is most often used for manufacturing firms.

Incentives for Clean Technologies -The Oregon Department of Energy offers the Business Energy Tax Credit to those who invest in energy conservation, recycling, renewable energy-related manufacturing, and less-polluting transportation fuels.

Do you plan to undertake any specific educational initiatives to encourage businesses to locate and remain in your state?
Kitzhaber: Transforming Oregon's economy requires better access to higher education for more Oregonians. The jobs of today and tomorrow need people who have attained at least some postsecondary education. If Oregon can't provide a work force for those good jobs, the state cannot hope to achieve a full, prolonged economic recovery.

We must break down the funding and governance silos that have become barriers to effective teaching and student achievement. We have an opportunity to change course today to provide better outcomes for our students, more resources for educators, and a more prosperous future for Oregon.

I recently issued an Executive Order creating the Oregon Education Investment Team. The Oregon Education Investment Team is charged to:
• Ensure children enter school ready and able to learn by creating an accountable, streamlined system for early childhood and family investment for implementation in the second year of the budget cycle;

• Seek cost-savings and efficiencies within the K-12 system to increase resources available for classroom teaching in the second year of the budget cycle; and

• Design a unified, performance-based, zero-to-20 budget model for consideration by the 2012 Legislature.