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Dudley Tries to Get in the Tax Game 

Republican Chris Dudley, the former Portland Trail Blazer who wants to be Oregon’s governor, is challenging Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to go one-on-one – but it’s not clear what game he wants to play.

Daley has gotten attention over the past week by predicting he’ll be able to lure businesses away from Oregon to Chicago after the passage of Measures 66 and 67. “It will help our economic development immediately,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “You’d better believe it. We’ll be out in Oregon enticing corporations to relocate to Chicago.”

Dudley fired off a letter to the mayor telling him he stands “ready to defend our jobs, our workers and our businesses. Having spent 16 years in the NBA, l know how to block shots and play defense and I am looking forward to a little one-on-one with you to protect and defend Oregon’s future.  If the current crowd in Salem won’t stand up for Oregon – I will.”

Dudley, a 6-foot-11 center who was more effective as a rebounder and shot blocker than as a scorer, went on to say that he opposed 66 and 67 and believes that “long-term … these tax increases [will] leave our economy worse off and our budget and funding for schools no better off.”

“Worse than a budget deficit, we have a leadership deficit, imagination deficit and change deficit in Salem,” Dudley continued. “Our politics and government have grown stale at the hands of insiders and career politicians who put partisanship and rigid ideology ahead of common sense and cooperation.”

As governor, Dudley said, “I will veto the runaway spending and bridge the partisan divide that gave birth to ballot measures 66 and 67 in the first place. I will change state policies to create more tax-payers – not just more taxes. I will change government’s attitude toward businesses away from ‘can you spare a dime?’ to ‘how can we help?’”

The letter leaves me more than a little confused. First Dudley says he’ll fight to keep Oregon jobs and businesses. But then he endorses the “Oregon is unfriendly to business” canard, which can't help with the effort to attract businesses here.

As readers of this blog know, I’m highly skeptical of the claim that businesses are going to leave Oregon en masse because of 66 and 67. For one thing, the tax increases are pretty small – a 2% hike in the top individual tax rate for people making over $125,000 or couples making over $250,000, and a 1.3% boost in the corporate rate. Relocating a business costs money, and the bigger the business is the more it costs. How long would it take a business to recoup in tax savings the money it would have to spend if it moved lock, stock and barrel to another state?

For another thing, when you look at the whole picture, the claim that Oregon is hostile to business just doesn’t stand up. The Tax Foundation, a pretty conservative group, ranks Oregon 14th in its State Business Tax Climate Index for 2010. (Mayor Daley’s state of Illinois is 30th.)

But I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. I will pay $20 to anybody who can produce a concrete example of a real, live business actually moving out of Oregon because of Measures 66 and 67.

I’m not interested in stories along the lines of “my brother-in-law told me he knows a guy who knows a guy who said he’s gonna move his business from Tualatin to Vancouver.” I need specific names and locations so I can check the stories out.

Also, the business has to actually move – somebody just grumbling about moving his business isn’t good enough.

If you have an example that meets these criteria, call the Source at 541-383-0800 and they’ll relay the information to me.

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