Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) reacted strongly to a story WW published this week that reported the Oregon Lottery is paying travel expenses for two top managers who have relocated to Sun Belt states.
Related: New state policy allows top Oregon Lottery managers to live in sun belt states tax-free
The story noted that in addition to avoiding Oregon income taxes, the agency has covered two travel expenses for two managers to Salem for meetings — at a cost of about $2,000 each so far in 2022.
“This is deeply unfair to the thousands of public employees who are not reimbursed for driving or taking public transit to work,” Knopp said in a statement.
“In 2023, I will introduce legislation to end this wasteful practice,” he added. “If Oregon state employees want to live out of state, that’s their business. That doesn’t mean taxpayers should be on the hook for the plane ticket.”
state officials said WW that about 500 employees have so far taken advantage of a new state policy put in place last year that allows employees to keep their jobs while permanently moving elsewhere. (Those employees who permanently relocate to another state will owe Oregon taxes only on the days they physically worked in Oregon, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue.)
Knopp doesn’t have a problem with telecommuting—just the lottery’s decision to cover travel expenses for employees who chose to live in other states.
(State policy states that “employees working under a full-time remote work model must be reimbursed by the agency for travel to and from the central work site.”)
Employees are allowed to move overseas on a case-by-case basis, with the approval of managers. From the Department of Administrative Services they say that so far 69 managers and 421 employees have moved. The three main overseas employment agencies in the Department of Human Services (175); Oregon Health Authority (89) and Oregon Department of Transportation (60).
Liz Merah, a spokeswoman for Gov. Kate Brown, says the pandemic has forced the state to reexamine how employees work.
“Within state government, we’ve evolved to a place where remote and hybrid work is encouraged where possible,” says Merah. “This has allowed us to better address the needs of today’s workforce and improve our competitiveness as an employer with the private sector.”