Oregon delivers ‘tax the rich’ message

2010 01 26ElectionNightRESIZ

Oregon voters delivered a "tax the rich" message yesterday, voting to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy to prevent cuts in public education and other social services.

The voters solidly approved two ballot measures: Measure 66 raises taxes on households with taxable income above $250,000 (less than 3 percent of the state's population), and Measure 67 raises the minimum tax on corporations from its current $10 (!) and increases the tax rate on upper-level profits.

The tax-the-rich measures passed easily, with late returns showing a 54 percent to 46 percent ratio, The Oregonian reported. They drew strong support throughout the state, including in areas considered more conservative. Turnout was estimated at a substantial 60 percent.

The vote is particularly significant because Oregon is known as an anti-tax state. It has capped property taxes and voters have rejected income tax increases twice in recent years, according to The Oregonian. It is one of only five states without a sales tax.

The state was facing an estimated $727 million shortfall with cuts especially hitting education and state services. Teachers and public worker unions had organized strongly for passage of the measures.

"We're absolutely ecstatic," Hanna Vaandering, a physical education teacher from Beaverton and vice president of the Oregon Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, told The Oregonian. "What Oregonians said today is they believe in public education and vital services."

OEA President Gail Rasmussen said on the union's web site, "Oregon voters took a stand against more four-day school weeks and bulging class sizes and said yes to corporations and the wealthy paying their fair share."

The teachers union credited the results to "the hard work of parents, educators, and thousands of Oregonians from every walk of life who stood up to protect our schools."

Campaign ads by supporters "highlighted banks and credit card companies and showed images of well-dressed people stepping off private jets," The Oregonian noted. "They also hammered on the $10 minimum tax that most corporations have paid since its inception in 1931."

Opposition to the tax-the-rich measures was led by a coalition of business groups funded by corporate CEOs like Nike's Phil Knight and Columbia Sportswear's Tim Boyle.

They tried to convince voters that taxing the rich would cause job losses and lead wealthy residents to move out of the state. But Tuesday's results indicate such appeals carried little weight.

The tax increases had been approved last year by the Democratic-led state Legislature, but big business and other right-wing interests organized a petition campaign that put the measures on the ballot for a public referendum.

The Legislature already put the $727 million for education and public services into the current budget. If the ballot measures had been rejected, lawmakers would have been forced to hold a special session to find other ways to reduce spending or raise revenue.

The voters' action on Tuesday "means the February session won't be focused on cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from schools, public safety and health care," said House Speaker Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone.

Oregonian reporter Harry Esteves concluded that Tuesday's "strong support" for the tax measures "validated a strategy by Democratic lawmakers to single out the rich and corporations for targeted tax increases."

Photo: www.oregoned.org 


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  • That comes out to about $5k for each of the 3% of Oregons population making over $250k per annum.
    To those who would leave oregon and take their toys with them over this; it's a small price to pay to live in such a wonderful state.
    Good riddance if you flee!

    Posted by Russo, 02/23/2010 12:45pm (6 years ago)

  • As a working class Oregonian with two children in the public education system and a spouse working as a teacher for Portland Public Schools, I applaud the outcome of the election. The crisis in school funding goes back at least ten years and was even lampooned in the comic Doonesbury in 2003.

    A solution was long overdue. In the context of a recession it was good to see a progressive taxation solution to the crisis. The people fortunate enough to have very comfortable incomes in these time will still see only modest increases of 2 or so percent. Those hit hardest by the recession, the unemployed, will get a tax break in the form of an exemption on the first 2,400 dollars of their unemployment compensation. Now that's progressive!

    The "people" I feel least sorry for are the corporations. It seems with the recent Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign finance regulations that corporations think they are to be treated the same as natural people. If that is the case they can not have it both ways. A $10 minimum since 1931? Laughable! The new minimum of $150 is perfectly reasonable for the smallest corporations. As for large and profitable corporations - TAX THEM! They reap the benefits of operating in a state with services that help us all. If we fear that corporations will flee because we make them pay their fair share then we need to build a people's movement to blanket every state in the union to make them pay.

    In solidarity!

    Posted by Rick, 01/29/2010 12:46pm (6 years ago)

  • Now let the people of Oregon "dance around the funeral pyre" as productive resources (that would be people and businesses) exit the state, as they are (and have been doing) in neighboring California!

    Posted by Bob American, 01/27/2010 4:20pm (6 years ago)

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