Ways & Means Roadshow

On 11 February 2017, hundreds of citizens turned out for a town hall to tell the Oregon Senate’s Ways and Means Committee what to do about our state’s $1.8 billion revenue shortfall. The overall message was resounding: corporate tax reform.

Oregon’s corporations pay the lowest state taxes in the nation. Eastside Portland Air Coalition was there in force to advocate for a robust DEQ budget in support of the air toxics regulatory overhaul. And we agree: the remedy is for corporations who do business in Oregon to start paying their fair share.

Here are some of the two-minute testimonials from EPAC:

Marny Spoons
Thank you for the opportunity to testify, and thank you for being here on a Saturday. My name is Marny Spoons and I’m a member of the Eastside Portland Air Coalition. First, I’d like to acknowledge the obvious. People who have come here with diverse and essential needs are being forced to compete and beg for scraps while corporate profits multiply exponentially.

I’m a mother and a longtime neighbor of Bullseye Glass, in the decades-neglected cadmium and arsenic hot spot identified by the moss study a year ago. The DEQ’s mission statement says it is there to protect Oregon’s air, water and soil, but since the moss study became public, too many cracks and missteps have created a distrust of the DEQ by our poisoned neighbors. Without a deep commitment to their mission statement and to culture change within, no amount of money will help the DEQ.

But there’s this massive regulatory overhaul called Cleaner Air Oregon. Now that I’ve seen CAO in action, I have faith that the advocates participating on our behalf will demand and ensure the change we so desperately need to stop the people of this beautiful state from being poisoned. If the huge resources of time and money and energy spent on Cleaner Air Oregon are going to amount to anything at all, it will need teeth to ENFORCE protective regulations, or else industry will just roll their poisoning of the public and our airshed into the cost of doing business. The only way to give the DEQ the strength it needs to hit polluters where it hurts, to protect the public and the land, to enforce the new regulations, is to make sure it is fully funded.

Corporations need to be paying for this funding. Polluter pays. I’m here to ask that the DEQ be fully funded AND fully held accountable. Thank you for listening.

Katharine Salzmann
Hi, my name is Katharine Salzmann, I’m a member of the Eastside Portland Air Coalition, and I have lived in SE Portland for 35 years. Last year our neighborhood found out that our families had been being poisoned by unregulated toxic heavy metals for decades. I am here to ask you to fully fund Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality.

I want to see the Governor’s Cleaner Air Oregon regulatory overhaul project succeed. We have an opportunity now to set a new standard, a new way of doing things at DEQ where human health and the health of the environment are at the center of regulatory policy.

And because our Federal regulatory agencies are now in jeopardy, the work is more urgent than ever.

We depend on clean air, clean water and uncontaminated soil for our lives. Everyone does. It is not a partisan matter. If we don’t have those things, we won’t have anything else.

I really want to see the DEQ be able to do what they are supposed to do, what we thought they were doing, what most of their staff expected to be doing when they started their careers and what they would be doing if they were adequately funded and had the resources.

Because there will be arguments, I want to mention the mythical antagonism between a strong economy and robust environmental protections. This old argument hides a lack of imagination and ingenuity and it isn’t true. It’s not true in California or Washington, in Europe or Louisville, Kentucky, and it won’t be true in Oregon. People love Oregon and want to be here because it’s gorgeous. Let’s do whatever we can to live up to our green reputation and preserve our beautiful home. Please fully fund Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality. Thank you.

Jennifer Jones – Jessica Applegate
Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today on behalf of both Jessica Applegate and myself, Jennifer Jones.

As members of the Eastside Portland Air Coalition we are acutely aware of Oregon’s air quality problems. Industry has been poisoning our air for decades. By funding DEQ and Cleaner Air Oregon and by supporting the Right-To-Know bill in the legislature, we have a chance for real regulatory reform.

I could use this time to scare you with real statistics about diesel and heavy metals in our air or that on an average weather inversion weather day an additional senior or member of our vulnerable population will die of pulmonary or heart failure. But I have now spent four hours in this room with all these other passionate people. And I can’t tell you to defund veterans services, or education or healthcare. Each of us is here, desperate to fight for the things each of us knows is imperative to the health and survival of our communities. And as our responsible public servants you have sacrificed a blue-skyed Saturday to listen to us.

How is it possible for any of us to choose who will live and who will die?

So where does the responsibility of Oregon’s corporations lie? Oregon ranks dead last in corporate taxes. We need real tax reform and that MUST include Oregon corporations paying their fair share. Their taxes must fund this shortfall, not cuts to necessary services. We owe it to our veterans, and seniors, we need it for our infrastructure and education and we will die if we don’t have it for our healthcare AND our clean air.

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