Adding $3 billion in new revenue to the state budget is a great idea…on the surface. Sure, we want to be sure our schools have the level of funding needed to improve education. Sure, we want there to be money to improve healthcare and we’d certainly like to see more services for our senior citizens.
Measure 97 would increase the minimum corporate tax on corporate gross sales that exceed $25 million. Corporate sales below $25 million would continue to be taxed at the current 0.1 percent rate.
Some say the new tax would make big business pay its fair share of taxes in Oregon. Proponents continue on that it would mostly be out-of-state corporations with in-state sales that would be affected.
Opponents say that regardless of the intent of the measure the added tax costs will be passed onto the consumer; some say that could be up to $600 per household per year in added expense.
According to the 2016 State Business Tax Burden Rankings by the Anderson Economic Group of Michigan, Oregon has the lowest corporate tax rate of any state. That can be addressed another day. If Oregon has the lowest corporate tax rate in the nation shouldn’t corporations be flocking to our state? But, that’s for another day as well.
We are not swayed by arguments such as Measure 97 would be the biggest tax increase in state history, or it is a hidden sales tax.
We are swayed by the argument that the measure does not put into state statute exactly where that new revenue would be used. As written the revenues from the new corporate tax would go into the general fund. Though supporters say it would be used for childhood education, healthcare and senior services, that is no guarantee. Future legislatures could direct that revenue into other areas.
We say vote no on Measure 97 in 2016. Then the hard work must begin: Democrats and Republicans must, without excuse, come to agreement on areas to streamline and reduce the costs of government. Get the state’s financial and tax houses in order, show the people it can be trusted to work with billions of extra dollars.
Any future measures similar to 97 should have revenues explicitly earmarked for the areas most people would agree are important: education, wellness (physical and mental) and seniors. —LAZ