Oregon voters address their state budget crisis by passing an initiative raising taxes.

Oregon voters pass tax increase

The Progress Report, Jan. 27, '10




Oregon is one of many U.S. states currently facing a budget crisis. With a projected shortfall of $2.5 billion between 2009 and 2011, the state is on the verge of having to freeze salaries for public employees, end forest protection rules, and make deep cuts to education spending.


However, Oregon progressives took action. Noting that their state has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation -- the corporate minimum income tax is a paltry $10 a year -- and that Oregon's wealthy have benefited enormously from years of conservative policies, activists -- led by teachers and public employees' unions -- organized around two ballot initiatives that would raise taxes on the upper-income tax bracket and corporations in order to close the budget gap.

And this week, Oregon voters "handily" passed both measures. "It's not that it was targeted at the rich," said Charles Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy one of the groups that pushed for the tax increases.


"It was targeted at the right people, those with the ability to pay. It made the system more progressive." The result will secure $1 billion in funding for services while not raising taxes on 97.5 percent of taxpayers in Oregon and 93 percent of small business owners.


"This wasn't about trying to soak the rich. This was about trying to protect the middle class. And it is the case that you have to ask those who can afford to, to pay a little more in order to do that," said Kevin Looper, director of the Vote Yes campaign in support the ballot measures.


Oregon is not the only state that has rejected the right wing's anti-tax philosophy. Twenty-nine states have "passed tax and fee increases totaling $24 billion this budget year, according to the National Governors Association, up from $1.5 billion a year earlier."

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