Activists in Oregon gear up to fight tax hike through veto referendum

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May 31, 2009

SALEM, Oregon. If the Oregon Legislature passes a state income tax hike, and if Gov. Ted Kulongoski signs it, tax activists in the state are gearing up to use the veto referendum process in the state to try to stop the hike.[1]

Some state lawmakers are pushing tax bills that might boost personal and corporate income taxes in the state by as much as $800 million over two years. A transportation funding and taxation bill that already passed the Oregon Legislature may also be opposed by activists through the veto referendum process.

Groups opposed to the two tax hike bills are:

  • Americans for Prosperity, whose Oregon communications director Matt Evans said that his group has been contacting its 13,000 members in the state to ask them to each commit eight hours to circulating petitions to place the tax hike measures on the ballot where voters can make the final decision on them.[1]
  • FreedomWorks, whose director Russ Walker said his Oregon group is "prepared to spend $500,000 or more to gather signatures."[1]

The veto referendum process laid out in the Oregon Constitution sets out these rules:

  • Groups who oppose a bill passed by the state legislature have a 90-day window from the time that the legislature adjourns to collect 55,179 signatures to force a statewide vote of the people on the bill they oppose.
  • The Oregon legislature is currently set to adjourn in "late June."[2]
  • That means tax-hike opponents would have until late September to collect signatures.
  • Election officials in the state then would have 30 days to verify the signatures and schedule a vote. The earliest that vote could be held is in January 2010.
  • The tax hikes would not go into effect while the vote is pending.

See also