Earlier this year, policymakers in Oregon enacted both temporary and permanent changes in the state’s tax system to help close an enormous budget gap and, by extension, provide funding for vital services like education, health care, and public safety. Among the changes are an increase in the personal income tax rate on income in excess of $250,000, new limitations on the personal income tax deduction for federal taxes paid, reforms to the state’s corporate minimum tax, and an increase in the top corporate income tax rate.
Yet, due to quirks in Oregon’s legislative process, opponents of these changes have an opportunity to put them before the voters for approval via referendum. Not surprisingly, representatives of big business and a who’s who of anti-tax organizations are attempting to take full advantage of that opportunity. Groups such as Associated General Contractors of America, Associated Oregon Industries, and Common Sense for Oregon have all already given tens of thousands of dollars to the referendum effort, which must collect over 55,000 signatures by September 25. If they do, then the changes will be put before the voters in January.
While corporate interests will almost certainly go to great lengths to stop these changes from taking effect, it will ultimately be the voters who decide -- and, for now, it appears that they understand the need for additional revenue generated in a progressive fashion. Polling conducted by Grove Insight and released by the Oregon Center for Public Policy indicates that 62 percent of likely voters would back the changes enacted by the legislature, with just 26 percent opposed.
For more on the recent changes in tax policy and on the referendum fight, visit the Defend Oregon Coalition.