Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Great Train Robbery ... By the Trainsters at Union Pacific, trying to hold US up!

House Bill 4028A: Oregon’s Union Pacific Gravy Train

 “If their tracks need repairs, it’s their job as a business, not ours as taxpayers, to fix them.” Jody Wiser, Tax Fairness Oregon, Willamette Week, Feb. 8, 2012.

 “Gravy Train,” the recent Willamette Week story by Kara Wilbeck, notesthat last year, Union Pacific Railroad had profits of $3.3 billion. Yet since 2006, under a law stating that Oregon should subsidize transportation businesses that “lack capital,” the state has already handed out $24.7 million tax dollars to this corporate giant.

The current legislative session in Salem is slashing school budgets and senior services, potentially closing a jail and counting every penny. ButHB 4028A is trying to add another $10 million to the $40 million already in the fund called “ConnectOregon,” for gifts to businesses and to public entities for multi-model (non-highway) transportation projects.

Of the 69 grant applications – most ask the public to do most of the spending
·       48 are for grants where the project owner will pay 25% or less of the project cost.  Thus the public through ConnectOregon will be covering 75% or more of the cost. 

·       11 applicants will cover 25% to 50% of cost.

·       10 applicants will cover 51% to 75% of the cost.

Of course there may be other grants or loans coming to the project owners from other sources, which would further reduce their own contributions. 
Of that additional $10 million for ConnectOregon, $8.2 million could go to UP. The gravy train just keeps rolling along.

Why is UP once again seeking Oregon subsidies? The corporate giant’s mouthpiece Aaron Hunt answers in discredited terms that should make taxpayers grab for their wallets: the corporation just “wanted to partner with the public” and create “trickle down throughout the economy.”

This is the type of taxpayer rip-off that giant corporations like to arrange behind the scenes, even as their mouthpieces are complaining about “big government.” 

In this short session, the next decision point in the state legislature is coming right away in the Capital Construction Sub-Committee of the Ways and Means Committee. Legislators there could add the extra $10 million--but passing out more cash to corporations is not acceptable. 

Please phone or email one (or more) of the committee members now and say “NO” to the $10 million ConnectOregon allotment in HB 4028A. Tell them to use our tax dollars to pay teachers to teach, not to pay for corporate-owned railroad tracks. Thank you.

Click here for talking points and the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of committee members.

Tax Fairness Oregon