February 25, 2012

Wolves and Oregon tax credits???

A wolf pack now inhabits Oregon, and in coming years there will likely be more. Oregon already has a strong wolf management plan.It supports programs designed to help livestock producers take proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock loss from wolves.
Actually, in states that have wolves, only 1/10th of 1% of all cattle losses were due to wolves; for sheep, it’s an average of less than 2.5%. 

 The expenses of breeding and raising livestock are already deductible from Oregon taxes. Yet in 2011, the legislature added a renewable $100,000 wolf kill compensation fund. (See ORS 610.150). Clearly the needs of these ranchers have now been met.

Yet HB 4005B, a new tax credit for livestock killed by wolves, has just been passed by the House Revenue Committee. If this unneeded bill becomes law, ranchers will be faced with a choice between the tax credit and the wolf kill compensation fund. Why would a majority of the committee pass this wasteful bill? We thought our lawmakers were supposed to be cutting government waste.

Some members of the House Revenue Committee actually called the cost of the tax credit “miniscule,” and we agree, since it is estimated that wolves will kill only 5 sheep and 5 cattle in Oregon next year. But Rep. Jules Bailey said it best when he described the credit as “bad policy.”

Bravo for his lone vote against the bill in committee. 

In the past 12 years, bill by bill, vote by vote, such tax giveaways, officially known as tax expenditures,” have grown from 36% to a staggering 46% of the General Fund, diminishing the revenue urgently needed for our public services such as schools and state police.

HB 4005B is bad public policy. Please click here to call or email your Senator and your Representative right away and ask them to kill this unneeded, wasteful tax break.

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