Elizabeth Silberg: Commit Your Kicker!

What do you think of when you think of Oregon? The Painted Hills or the Gorge? Earthy Pinot Noirs or hoppy IPAs? Pickathon or the Country Fair?

From January 29 to April 17, it might be something else that comes to mind… something perhaps not as flashy as our state’s signature natural wonders, drinks, or events, but nonetheless just as uniquely Oregon: the kicker!

If you’re new to Oregon taxes, here’s a brief primer. Every two years, when lawmakers build the budget, state economists sit down and predict how high personal income taxes will be. When their predictions are off by 2% or more, the excess is refunded back to taxpayers as the Oregon tax rebate – affectionately known as the “kicker.”

It’s a controversial policy, and the figure has been trending upward over time. This year, a whopping $5.6 billion is being kicked back to Oregonians – more than double what our state has ever seen before! In other words, you will likely be walking away with a significantly larger refund than you may have expected.

However, the kicker isn’t just a one-time bump in your disposable income. It’s a chance to make a difference for the future of Oregon.

That’s why Elizabeth Silberg – Board member and ELB alum – has decided to donate a portion of her kicker to OEC. We sat down with Elizabeth to learn about her life, career, and why she’s decided to take this opportunity to support a cause she cares deeply about.

What has your relationship with the natural world looked like over the years? How did that lead you to OEC?

I’ve always cared about the environment. I wasn’t raised in any particular religion, but I’ve always believed in the interconnectedness of all things. My parents were very big into reuse and conserving things. For example, an envelope gets used at least six times. It ships something, then it becomes a list, then a bookmark, then eventually, when there’s only a corner of it left, maybe you can put your gum into it, right? So I grew up with that level of awareness of how I used things.

But then I got more interested in the environment in a broader, more legislative sense, in terms of the levers that can be pulled to create different outcomes. This actually came from my corporate work. I’m a computer science engineer by training, and went through management and strategy work throughout my career. Sitting in corporate headquarters, I saw how large of an impact legislation can have on outcomes. So, around that time, I heard about some openings on the Emerging Leaders Board. I thought that would be a great way to get involved at OEC, and meet other like-minded folks. So I applied, and got accepted!

What do you love about Oregon?

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, but my aunt lived in Oregon my whole life. We came out to visit when I was a kid. I remember how much fun we would have going to the beach. Later in life, I ended up dating my now-husband long distance, and we were looking for a new place to move together. So, we filled out this “Where should I live?” survey online – both independently, and together. In all of those cases, six of the 20 options it gave were Oregon cities. So we were like, “We should probably check out Oregon!”

We had a list of two things we cared about when we moved here: temperate weather, and decent public transportation. But within a year of moving here, we had a list from our heads to our toes. Having so much fresh water, life-sustaining places, beautiful summers… We used to always travel in the summer. Now, we never want to go anywhere in the spring, summer or fall, because it’s just perfect here. You know, the springs and summers are different now, and there are environmental changes happening as well. But we love Oregon. 

Why have you decided to donate a portion of your kicker to OEC?

Shortly after learning about OEC, I moved from the corporate world into nonprofit work in 2020. I took an interim Executive Director position at another organization, and I really enjoyed it. But at the same time, I felt like I wasn’t pursuing what I originally wanted to do when I left the corporate world: starting my own business.

So about a year ago, I started a pottery business called Lady E. I’m really pursuing my passion – both in the pottery and creative side, but also in terms of starting a business. It’s been really interesting to start everything from scratch, and build it up and figure it all out myself. But that also put me into a different financial situation. I need to be a lot more intentional and specific about where I put my money.

The kicker is a chance to bump up my support. It’s an opportunity to say, “I have this money coming in that I wasn’t expecting… How do I remember all of the causes and organizations that I’ve wanted to be a part of and contribute to?” OEC is absolutely at the top of that list. I’m really excited to be able to donate a portion of my kicker to OEC.

What would you say to someone who has wanted to support the type of environmental work that OEC does, but hasn’t known where to start?

Becoming an OEC member can be as little as $5 a month. $60 split over 12 months is a pretty achievable opportunity. And then you get to be a member! You get a lot of information and updates from the organization.

From an organizational perspective, I would really encourage people to look into the long-term results and follow-through of different organizations. There are organizations that can have a really good front end story that sounds really flashy when they stop at your door. And that’s great! But being a part of OEC made me recognize how much they follow through – not only from advocacy, but through deep legislation, helping craft the wording in bills, seeing the rule-making through to the end and making sure that what’s implemented was what was intended. You can see this happening right now with OEC’s work on the Climate Protection Program. Following through as long as needed – to really make sure we don’t just drop the ball after a big splash and a great headline – is what’s most compelling to me for how I want to invest my next environmental dollar.

You can join Elizabeth, and invest your next environmental dollar in OEC!

Commit Your Kicker! Join OEC Today!

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