Oregon State Income Tax Initiative, Measure 59 (2008)

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Oregon State Income Tax Initiative, Measure 59 was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Oregon as an initiated state statute ballot measure. It was defeated.

If it had passed, Oregon would have joined Alabama, Iowa, and Louisiana as the only states to allow federal income taxes to be fully deducted on state income tax returns.

Election results

Measure 59
Defeatedd No1,084,42263.75%
Yes 615,894 36.25%
Election results from Oregon Secretary of State


This was the third time Sizemore has put a similar measure on the ballot. In 2000, he qualified Measure 91, which would have made federal income taxes fully deductible on state taxes. It lost by a margin of 55%-45%, but a legislative referral that increased limited state deductions of federal taxes passed. In 2007, the limit on federal deductions was $5,600--it was designed to increase each year according to inflation.

In 2006, Sizemore introduced Measure 41, which would have allowed "income tax deduction equal to federal exemptions deduction to substitute for state exemption credit." It failed 73%-37%.

Along with Measures 60 and 64, Measure 59 is one of the three initiatives on the 2008 ballot that repeat themes of ballot initiatives sponsored by Sizemore in previous years.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title was:

An Act to Prohibit Double Taxation.[1]

Full text

The full text of the legislation enacted by Measure 59 is available here.

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This historical ballot measure article requires that the text of the measure be added to the page.

Specific provisions of the initiative

Specific provisions of Measure 59 included:

  • Adding Section 1 to the Oregon Revised Statutes. Prohibition on Double Taxation. Whereas it is unjust for one government to impose an income tax on money a taxpayer has been required to pay to another government as an income tax; therefore, for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2010, no Oregon taxpayer shall be required to pay to the state, a local government, or other taxing district, an income tax of any kind on money paid to the federal government as federal income taxes. All money paid to the federal government to satisfy, wholly or in part, a taxpayer’s federal income tax obligation for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2010 shall be fully deductible against income on the taxpayer’s Oregon income tax return. This section applies only to (i) federal income taxes paid on income subject to tax in Oregon, and (ii) federal income taxes, including capital gains taxes, paid by individuals. This section does not apply to corporate income taxes or corporate excise taxes.
  • Adding Section 2 to the Oregon Revised Statutes. This 2008 Act supersedes any existing law or rule with which it conflicts. If any phrase, clause or part of this 2008 Act is determined to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remaining phrases, clauses, and parts shall remain in full force and effect.

Estimated fiscal impact

The state's Financial Estimate Committee prepares estimated fiscal impact statements for any ballot measures that will appear on the ballot. The estimate prepared by this committee for Measure 58 says:

  • Measure 59 would benefit about a quarter of Oregon taxpayers.
  • It would lower state revenues by $1.3 billion in the 2009-2011 biennium and $2.4 billion in the 2011-2013 biennium.
  • The state budget would have to make up those reduced revenues in its general fund which pays for education, health care for children, the elderly, and the disabled, and public safety.

Other fiscal estimates


The Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) issued a separate financial impact study. Features of their report:

  • OCPP says the overall cost would be $1.1 billion rather than the $1.3 billion estimate provided by the government.
  • 22 percent of Oregon's taxpayers would see a savings from Measure 59.
  • Households with annual incomes exceeding $82,200 would receive 97% of the savings under the plan.[2]



Measure 59 was sponsored by Bill Sizemore

Bill Sizemore, Timothy R. Trickey and R. Russell Walker were the measure's chief petitioners.[3]

The committee that put Measure 59 on the ballot was called "Stop the Double Tax."[4] There is no committee currently supporting the ballot measure.

Arguments in favor

Notable arguments made in support of the measure included:

  • This measure would save taxpayers over $1.3 billion over the next two years.
  • Tax cuts allow families and business to keep more of their own money, which reduces the need for government program spending.


The Oregonian reported in September 2007 that Loren Parks was the leading contributor to the effort to put Measure 59 and other measures on the ballot.[5] According to the newspaper, Parks gave money directly to the signature gathering firm, rather than to Sizemore directly. A court injunction stemming from a 2000 fraud case prevents Sizemore from spending money directly on politics, although he told Oregon Public Broadcasting in May 2008 that he "found a way to put the measures on the ballot and give voters those choices without me actually handling the money. And so I’m still able to put measures on the ballot, I just have to do it in a sort of round-about way."[6]



Measure 59 was opposed by the coalition called Defend Oregon, which included the American Heart Association, 1000 Friends of Oregon, AARP Oregon, Children First for Oregon and others.

Arguments against

Notable arguments made against Measure 59 included:

  • "There are many good wealthy folks who will not suffer with the failure of Measure 59. Society as a whole, however, will suffer mightily if it passes," said Gary Stutzman of the Hillsboro Argus.[7]
  • Because the measure would reduce overall tax revenues for the state, it would reduce the amount of money available for the state's most vulnerable populations, who rely on government programs for various types of assistance.[8]
  • For the same reason, state spending on public safety programs would likely have to be reduced.
  • The $1.1 billion (or $1.3 billion) cost estimate is equivalent to the total funding that Oregon’s public universities will receive from the state in the current biennium or to cutting the salaries of all Oregon K-12 public school teachers by 70 percent.
  • In addition to not benefiting a majority of taxpayers, Measure 59 actually increases taxes on about 120,000 people, mostly retirees, according the Oregon Center for Public Policy.


Defend Oregon, as a committee, fought seven different ballot measures, and supported two others. As a result, it is not possible to discern how much of its campaign warchest was going specifically to defeat Measure 58. Altogether, the group raised $9 million in 2008.[9]

Major donations to the Defend Oregon group as of October 23 included:[10]

Newspaper editorial opinion

Thirteen of Oregon's newspapers endorsed a "no" vote on Measure 59: The Oregonian, Medford Mail-Tribune, Statesman Journal, Bend Bulletin, Portland Tribune, Eugene Register-Guard, Daily Astorian, East Oregonian, Corvallis Gazette Times, The World (Coos Bay, Willamette Week, Yamhill Valley News Register, and the Gresham Outlook all urge their readers to reject the measure.

See also: Endorsements of Oregon ballot measures.

Path to the ballot

The office of the Oregon Secretary of State announced on June 16, 2008 that its unofficial signature verification process showed that the initiative's supporters had turned in 83,136 valid signatures, versus a requirement of 82,769 signatures. This represented a validity rate of 64.76% calculated over the 128,380 signatures turned in. The measure formally qualified for the ballot on August 2.[14][15]

A union-funded watchdog group asked the Oregon Secretary of State to conduct an investigation into how some of the signatures on the measure were collected. Bill Bradbury, the Secretary of State has said, "."..most all of the initiatives Oregon voters will decide this fall got there through practices that are now illegal. But those practices were legal at the time most of the signatures were submitted." A lawsuit has been filed in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the new laws governing the initiative process in Oregon.[16][17][18]

See also

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