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Republicans Fail In Attempt To Extend 'Nike Deal' To Other Businesses

Brandon Carson

Oregon lawmakers have turned away an attempt to expand a tax deal offered to athletic apparel giant Nike last year. Democrats in the Oregon Senate Wednesday rejected a Republican measure to freeze the way taxes are calculated on businesses.

Last December, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber called a one-day special legislative session. The sole purpose: To craft a measure that gave Oregon-based Nike so-called "tax certainty." Their tax rate isn't guaranteed. But the way those taxes are calculated will be, for 30 years. The upshot is that they're guaranteed not to have to pay taxes on money earned out-of-state.

Kitzhaber said the deal was needed to prevent Nike from expanding elsewhere. Now, Republicans want the same offer to go to all Oregon businesses, regardless of size.

GOP Senator Larry George says if that kind of deal is good for Nike, "Then it's good for the guy, the man or woman who has a product, who's an entrepreneur, who starts a company, who puts their own money, their own house, their entire life on the line. It's good for them."

But Democrats said the tax guarantee would do little for small businesses, who are less likely to have out-of-state sales. The measure failed on a party line vote.