Oregon Voters Approve $727 Million Tax Hike
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
For the first time since 1930, Oregon voters approved a general tax increase on Tuesday (Jan. 26), signing off on a plan to raise $727 million by targeting corporations and the wealthy.
By approving two ballot initiatives — known as Measures 66 and 67 — Oregonians showed that they prefer to tax relatively well-off segments of the population instead of making deep budget cuts to education and other state services.
Measure 66 raises income taxes on individuals who earn more than $125,000 a year and households that earn more than $250,000. Measure 67 replaces Oregon's 79-year-old, $10-minimum corporate income tax with a new sliding scale that could sharply increase taxes for many businesses. Both plans were passed by the majority Democratic Oregon Legislature last year, but were placed on the ballot by opponents who gathered enough signatures to force a public vote.
As Stateline.org reported Tuesday , the election has national implications. Beyond being a referendum on a key part of Oregon Democrats' policy agenda, the Beaver State is the first in the nation to vote on an emerging trend of state lawmakers targeting the wealthy for tax hikes. A record eight states, including Oregon, raised personal income taxes on their top earners last year, a practice Republicans have decried as "class warfare."
Beyond being a showdown between Democrats and Republicans, the election turned into a proxy fight between labor unions that backed the measures and many businesses trying to reject them. The Associated Press reported that Tuesday's special election was one of the most expensive issue campaigns in Oregon history, noting that the $727 million at stake represents about 5.5 percent of the state's two-year, general-fund budget.