Oregon and New Jersey: Time to Get Serious on Tax Increases

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With the start of fiscal year 2010 generally only a little more than a month away and with the overall fiscal picture continuing to look rather bleak, two more states have gotten serious about using progressive income tax increases to generate much needed revenue. In Oregon this past week, Democratic legislators -- who control both chambers of the statehouse -- unveiled a plan to raise $800 million over the FY09-11 biennium. One of the principal features of the plan is the creation of two new income tax brackets -- one for couples with incomes over $250,000 (or for single filers with incomes above $125,000) and another for filers with incomes greater than $500,000. The rates for these brackets would be 10.8 percent and 11 percent respectively. (At present, the top rate in Oregon is 9 percent). Similarly, in New Jersey, Governor Jon Corzine, in the wake of particularly poor April revenue collections, has revised his earlier budget plan. He now proposes to raise the tax rate for millionaires to 9.47 percent and to create an additional bracket for filers with incomes between $400,000 and $500,000. While the income tax aspects of the Governor's proposal have won support from progressives, his recommendation that the state suspend its current property tax rebates for everyone except the elderly and the disabled has been less favorably received.

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