O'Neill president Maurice Rahming spoke at the Better Oregon event in Jamison Park today about the challenges that small businesses face against larger corporations. (Especially when these larger companies are given extreme tax breaks and land deals.)
Here is the text of his speech:
My name is Maurice Rahming, and I own O’Neill Electric. I’ve owned this company for 18 years, and I have 65 employees, who all have families of their own to support.
My business depends on skilled workers — without skilled workers, we just wouldn’t have a business. Career and Technical Education programs have a place in Oregon’s economy, but these programs are getting slashed. That’s bad for my business, but it’s also bad for our communities. Because of cuts to CTE programs, I either have to hire out-of-state workers, or pay for training. I want to hire Oregonians — I know it’s good for our economy, unlike my competitors who hire out of state workers, who aren’t invested in our communities. They are here just for the job — and they don’t care about the neighborhoods that I and my employees live in. We aren’t doing anything to support local businesses.
And I can’t afford to pay for training, especially when I’m trying to compete against big corporations. As a small business owner in Oregon, I pay about 8 times as much in taxes as large corporations do. You can’t call that a level playing field — big companies can hire high priced lawyers, lobbyists and accountants to create tax loopholes to reduce their tax bill to zero. These same big corporations drive small businesses out of town by undercutting them.
The biggest corporations also get huge tax breaks — they say they’ll be used to create new jobs, and they do, but those jobs don’t last. People get laid off, and these corporations pocket millions in tax breaks. They’re making promises, but not sticking to them — and we can’t hold them accountable.
This measure re-balances business taxes so that big corporations pay their fair share. This measure will also help our communities — if our kids aren’t getting the kind of training that CTEs can offer them, that means that when they graduate high school, they don’t have all of the opportunities that should be available to them.
I’m committed to my employees, and I’m committed to my community. I know that for my business to succeed, I need trained workers, and for my community to be healthy, for everyone to have opportunities to succeed, we need better schools. Everyone will do better if our schools were in better shape. We can only do this if big corporations pay their fair share.
The quality of our economy depends on the quality of our workforce. My business is built through strong schools and strong communities. For too long, small and medium sized businesses have done their fair share in Oregon. It’s time for the large and out-of-state corporations to do their part too.