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Burdick pulls back on Gain Share changes in Legislature

State Sen. Ginny Burdick says she has “pulled the plug” on trying to change the Gain Share program during the 2013 legislative session.

Burdick and others had argued that the program, which is resulting in tens of millions of dollars being returned to Washington County and the city of Hillsboro, has grown so large that it is draining dollars away from state programs, such as education.

“I still believe the program needs to be changed, but it’s just too late in the session to have that conversation. People are just too tired and stressed out,” says Burdick, who plans to revisit the issue during next year’s session.

The program shares 50 percent of state income dollars generated by economic development projects with local governments that waive a portion of their property taxes to encourage them. Governments in Washington County have been the greatest beneficiaries so far, receiving about $12 million from the state last year. The amount is projected to increase to more than $50 million this year.

Washington County Chair Andy Duyck and Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey responded by promising to give $10 million to school districts in the county during the next two years. Duyck says Burdick’s decision assures the districts will receive the money.

State Reps. Ben Unger and Joe Gallegos both support dedicating 40 percent of Gain Share fund to the schools. They could not be reached for comment.