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Nike Proposal Cheered, Jeered At First Hearing

Brandon Carson

SALEM, Ore. – The proposal to give Nike certainty on the way its Oregon income taxes are calculated is winning both cheers and jeers at the state capitol. Lawmakers and interest groups are suggesting several changes to Governor John Kitzhaber's plan, which will come before a Special Session of the legislature Friday.

The bill would allow the governor to enter into a contract with Nike. The bargain? If Nike or any large company expands by at least 500 jobs and invests $150 million, the state would guarantee it wouldn't change the way its corporate income taxes are calculated.

The proposal surfaced earlier this week when Kitzhaber unexpectedly called a Special Session. Nike lobbyist Julia Brim-Edwards defended the quick timeframe to lawmakers skeptical about the need to act so quickly.

"Sometimes opportunities appear at unexpected times," she said. "So why now? Given our current capacity issues and the state of discussion for our expansion, we're prepared to move ahead with our decision-making."

More than 8,000 people work at Nike’s Beaverton headquarters. Some critics of the proposal say the offer should be extended to smaller companies. Others say it isn't right to give special treatment to any company, regardless of size.

On the Web:

Initial draft version of the bill (Oregon Legislature)