...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
      ( 6:53 AM )

I'm not sure if most readers of the Oregonian, or the Oregonian staff, caught the most recent "1984" example of how our community is eating itself alive. But this household caught it.

On Friday, the newspaper announced that Intel, one of our biggest corporate residents, had achieved a sweet deal: for the next 15 years, the huge computer chip manufacturer will save $580 million in property taxes (translation: the corporation doesn't have to pay property tax while the rest of the residents have to take up its slack). Another example of communities held hostage by corporations. Of course the biggest hit gets taken by the area schools, who are funded by those property taxes.

Intel asked for the extension in February and received broad support from civic officials and business leaders in Washington County, who welcome the prospect of continued corporate investment. The company's annual payroll in Washington County tops $1.5 billion.

Social activists and education boosters are more wary, concerned Intel isn't paying for the burden it creates in the community and schools, but there have been fewer objections than when Intel signed its last deal six years ago. Washington County commissioners and the Hillsboro City Council plan to vote on the new agreement after a public hearing May 17.

Intel hasn't actually committed to any new Oregon investment, and, as with the existing package of tax breaks, the exemptions apply only to money the company spends in Washington County. Also, like the current agreement, the new deal would require Intel to pay millions in fees to the county and to Hillsboro but nothing to the area's schools.

Then, yesterday the Oregonian ran an article about "entrepreneurial vision" where it interviewed a departing chief of Intel's venture capital wing about what it takes to keep entreprenurism and corporations alive and happy in a community. The Intel guy's main complaint about the Portland community? Why, the poor state of the schools, of course!

What are one or two concrete things you think the state or local governments could do?

At the risk of simplification, I'd say there's two things: One is to establish both the vision as well as the funding mechanisms to lead in K-12 education. . . . The second thing is to develop a set of policies for the formation of new businesses that at a minimum does not competitively disadvantage a business in Oregon relative to anywhere else in the world.


Are corporations paying their fair share financially?

Everything begins with jobs and education. People get educations, they get good jobs. They get good jobs, they buy nice houses. Property values go up, property taxes flow into the school system, and that's kind of the circle of life in my book. . . . I think what you want to do is bring the best jobs you possibly can to your neighborhood. It's that simple. . . . You can't competitively disadvantage businesses if you wish for them to locate in your state.

... Irony. It would make you laugh if you weren't so busy trying to pay the extra property income taxes you and the decent, hard working people of your community voted in for yourself so that your kid could have a decent school...

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