OBI, along with about 30 business partner organizations, sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown and legislative leaders outlining steps state government should take to assist the Oregon business community’s efforts to preserve jobs and maintain operations during the coronavirus crisis. OBI President & CEO Sandra McDonough presented the priorities on Tuesday during the first meeting of the governor’s Coronavirus Economic Advisory Committee, and then again on Wednesday to the Legislature’s Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response.
The business groups noted that the first priority must be protecting the health of all Oregonians, but said ensuring employees can be paid in the near term and jobs are protected in the long term must also be top imperatives.
Noting the serious cash-flow challenges facing employers across the state, the business association letter asked state leaders to delay the start of the new Corporate Activity Tax for at least the first quarter of 2020, and consider extending the delay through the second quarter if economic conditions do not improve. Many businesses are struggling to pay their employees, so relieving them of this near-term tax payment will help many companies preserve jobs and make payroll.
The first quarter CAT payment is due April 30. The Department of Revenue has announced it will not charge penalties for late payments due to the coronavirus crisis. In her testimony Wednesday, McDonough noted that companies need to actually retain the money that would go to the state, not simply delay payment, to address their cash flow issues, saying some may have to choose between paying the tax or paying their employees.
Here are some of the other priority action requests outlined in the business letter:
- Protect the unemployment insurance fund
- Address cash flow challenges
- Address tax issues
- Review regulatory burdens
OBI appreciates the bold steps Oregon leadership has taken so far to address the situation, but continuing uncertainty is weighing heavily on Oregon’s business community. Business owners and employees alike don’t know what’s coming next, and that leads to anxiety for everyone.
The legislative committee will meet again Friday and the Oregon Employment Department will have its monthly report out on Friday. OBI, its partners, and advocates from across the state encourage communication as we work to address the challenges coming up each and every day.
Download Letter (PDF).