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Oregon Lawmakers Mull Nike Proposal In Special Session

Brandon Carson

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers are meeting in a rare Special Session to consider a proposal to give Nike a unique tax deal. The measure has passed out of committee but its ultimate fate remains unclear Friday afternoon.

Governor John Kitzhaber called lawmakers to the capitol and asked them to do this: Pass a law right away that would allow the governor to freeze the way Nike's Oregon income taxes are calculated, at least for a certain period of time. The Beaverton-based shoe-maker says it will launch a major expansion in the state in exchange for the tax freeze.

But some lawmakers and protesters said the Legislature shouldn't act so hastily. Education advocate Susan Barrett worries that the measure will mean the state forgoes valuable tax revenue in the future.

"This is not how you make policy," she says. "So I should tell you: Just don't do it. You cannot do this in such a rushed manner. And this is just not an emergency."

Some lawmakers are proposing to shorten the length of the tax freeze guarantee, or open the offer up to smaller companies. It's the first time an Oregon governor has called a Special Session since April of 2006.