Oregon Tax Hike Vote, Measures 66 and 67 (January 2010)

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For the text of the ballot measures, see Oregon Measure 66 and Oregon Measure 67
Oregon Ballot Measures 66 and 67 appeared on the January 26, 2010 special election ballot in Oregon as potential veto votes on a $733 million tax hike enacted by the Oregon State Legislature in 2009. Both measures were upheld.[1][2]

The election marked the first time since 1931 that the corporate minimum taxes had been changed.[3]

On July 20, 2009 Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed two tax bills that would increase taxes in the state by $733 million through increasing the state’s corporate minimum tax, raising taxes on the state’s high-income individuals and raising income taxes on businesses.[4] In reaction to the news, several Oregon citizen and business groups geared up to use the veto referendum process in the state to try to stop the hikes.[5][6]

On October 8, 2009, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced that both ballot measures qualified for the ballot. According to Don Hamilton, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office,“They filed more than twice as many [signatures]. It’s unusually high for a statewide ballot measure.”[7]

Aftermath

Supporters' response

Advocates of the successful ballot measures made clear that long-term stability of state revenue required additional reforms to the state tax system. In a statement, the Oregon Center for Public Policy said:

"As important as Measures 66 and 67 are for the well-being of our state, they are only one of several reforms necessary for creating a fiscally sound tax system based on ability to pay. The legislature should take the 'yes' vote as permission to curb the fiscally irresponsible kicker that primarily benefits the most well-to-do, so that Oregon can better save for rainy days...Oregon still needs corporate tax disclosure to figure out how to best reform the corporate tax system...Oregon still needs to address the problem that low-income Oregonians are asked to contribute more to state and local taxes, as a share of their income, than any other income group. The problem will worsen when the new gas tax kicks in, so the legislature needs to act to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to help working families with children make ends meet."[8]

The full statement can be read here.

Oppositions' response

Since the January election, some lawmakers said they believe that the approval of the tax measures will only prolong the state's current poor economic status. Sen. Doug Whitsett, however, said, "We have no choice but to live with the election outcome; however, we believe that the election results will serve to prolong the current economic recession."[9]

Gov. Ted Kulongoski has asked for lawmakers to work together "to make the best choices we can for Oregon’s collective future."

Kicker reform

Immediately following the approval of Measures 66 & 67 Gov. Ted Kulongoski urged lawmakers to ask voters in the November 2, 2010 statewide general election to divert part of excess tax collections into a state reserve fund. "It's time to say enough to budgeting from crisis to crisis, enough to additional tax increases — and enough to a lack of stability in our budgeting process," said the governor. In other words, the governor called for part of the "kicker surplus" to be directed to a state reserve fund. The "kicker" was added to the Oregon Constitution in 2000.[10] However, the "kicker" has been in state law since 1979. After a two-year budget cycle revenues in excess by 2% or more of the end-of-session projections are used for rebates to Oregon households. A corporate ticker follows the same logic.[11]

Details for establishing a state reserve fund include reverting to a rebate of the entire surplus once the reserve fund reaches a certain level. The proposed level is 10% of the general fund. Additionally, "emergency-only" rules would be created for the reserve fund. If the legislature approves the governor's proposal the issue will be presented before voters on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot.[12]

In mid-February, legislators announced that they did not plan to consider the governor's proposed "kicker" ballot measure. "Last (2008) session, members had a lot of time on their hands, as if we didn't have enough to do. This time, it's that we have almost too much to do," said Senate President Peter Courtney.[13] Shortly after the governor's proposal, House Speaker Dave Hunt said, "It's certainly not on the list of definitive things we plan to accomplish in February."[14] Sen. Courtney said, although he agrees with the proposed legislation, it may be bad timing after the Ballot Measure 66 and 67 campaigns which divided Oregon business from labor.[15]

Conflict of Interest

Oregon House Speaker Dave Hunt has been and continues to suggest that a replacement for Head Start lobbyist Mark Nelson be found. Hunt argues that Nelson has a conflict of interest in light of his opposition to the January 2010 tax measures 66 and 67. Hunt said that should Nelson's campaign against the measures be successful,"there will be no way that Head Start can continue to be protected" from budget cuts. Hunt, however, argues that he has never "urged anyone to fire Nelson; rather, he merely advised them that it might be a good idea." Of Hunt's comments, Nelson said it was punishment to lobbyists who opposed the tax measures.[16]

Website launched to track impact

On April 2, 2010 Alliance of Oregon’s Business Associations announced the launch of OregonTaxResponse.com, a website aimed at capturing and quantifying the impact of Measures 66 and 67. The organization is comprised of more than 30 trade associations and chambers of commerce which represent approximately more than 25,000 businesses. According to J. L. Wilson, spokesperson for the Alliance, one of the reasons behind the website is,"The Oregon Employment Department just announced that Oregon lost 1,200 jobs in February, right on the heels of Measures 66 and 67. Businesses are telling us that the tax hikes are resulting in postponed investments, business expansion in states other than Oregon, and loss of employment." The association stressed added that they do understand that businesses are still making adjustments and changing. All submitted responses will be vetted for accuracy, said the organization.[17][18]

Clackamas County postcard

In January 2010 Clackamas County commissioners sent out postcards regarding Measures 66 and 67. In late April, county residents rallied at county offices and voiced their concern about the postcard. According to residents, the county spent an estimated $32,000 on the cards. A complaint was filed with the Secretary of State's office but the it was dismissed due to a lack of evidence. County officials argue that the postcards were legal and appropriate. At the rally, residents said, "We have the evidence now that the Secretary of State was looking for in the first investigation."[19]

Ernst & Young 2010 tax study

In March 2010, following the approval of Measures 66 and 67 Ernst & Young released a tax study on the state of Oregon. According to the study, "in 2009 Oregon, along with Delaware and North Carolina, had the lowest combined state and local business taxes as a share of the economy among all the states."[20] The study was funded by the Council on State Taxation (COST), an association of multistate and multinational corporations that lobbies on state tax policy. According to reports, COST represents about 600 corporations.

In response to the tax study, Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) said they estimated that in order to achieve the national average for business taxes in 2009, Oregon would have to collect $1.7 billion more from businesses.[21]

Oregon Business Association study

In July 2010 the Oregon Business Association conducted a study of the Oregon business climate. According to report, the report notes that despite the controversy surrounding the 2010 approved Measures 66 and 67, Oregon remains among the highest in the country in regard to the rate of quality of life. Additionally, the state has one of the four international trade gateways on the West Coast; it lacks a sales tax; in 2009 was fourth in the nation in adding new wind-energy; and has been ranked as of the one the top 10 places to be an entrepreneur.[22]

However, despite the many positives, the report notes that there is a perception that Oregon is not business friendly. Reports also noted that the state has several trends affecting the state's work force, including: the incoming work force is less education than the retiring work force and the percentage of adults with an associate degree or higher has decreased.[22]

In conclusion, the report said that regardless of the tax credits and the perception of the state's attitude towards businesses, "The single greatest thing Oregon could do for business is get its house in order," said Ryan Deckert, the OBA's president.[22]

Legislative Revenue Office projections

In December 2010 the state's Legislative Revenue Office released projections for the 2011-13 budget and announced that the 2010 approved measure - Measure 66 - was expected to generate two-thirds or 66% the previously projected funds. The previous projection was made in May 2009. The measure was expected to raise $333 million for the 2008-10 budget year and $245 million for 2011-13. According to state officials, the main cause of the decline was the state's economic downturn.[23][24]

Repeal bills

Two bills were filed during the 2011 Oregon legislative session by Rep. Kim Thatcher to repeal both Measure 66 and 67. Specifically, HB 2819 would repeal Measure 66 which raised personal income taxes. HB 2820 would repeal Measure 67 which raised corporate tax rates. The bills, according to Thatcher, were filed in order "to reduce Oregon’s tax burden."[25][26]

2012 tax rate drop

According to the 2010 voter-approved Measure 66 the tax rate in 2012 will go down slightly from the rate in 2011 but will remain higher than the rate prior to the approval of the measure.[27]

According to the approved measure, the rate would drop permanently to 9.9% in 2012. The measure initially increased the income tax rate by 20 percent (from 9% to 10.8%) for those making $125,000 per year (or $250,000 for joint tax filers). The higher 10.8% tax increase applied to 2009, 2010 and 2011.[27]

According to reports, one group is fighting the scheduled tax rate drop. "Our Oregon" argues that the legislature should not drop the tax rates at a time when funds are needed for such things as education.[28]

Lawmakers are scheduled to enter session in February 2012, however it is expected that discussion will center around the state's budget which may or may not include discussion on changing the tax rate.[28][29]

Opponents of tax increases argue that the high taxes may discourage business investments and job creation.[28]

Election results

Oregon Measure 66
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 692,687 54.27%
No583,70745.73%


Oregon Measure 67
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 682,720 53.59%
No591,18846.41%

Election results via Oregon Blue Book

Text of measure

Measure 66

See also: Oregon Measure 66 (2010)

The ballot title reads as follows, as of November 17, 2009:[30][31][32]

Raises tax on household income at and above $250,000 (and $125,000 for individual filers). Reduces income taxes on unemployment benefits in 2009. Provides funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services.
  • Yes vote: “Yes” vote raises tax on incomes above $250,000 for households, $125,000 for individual filers. Tax rate increases 1.8 percentage points on amount of taxable income between $250,000 and $500,000, 2 percentage points on amount above $500,000 for households. For individual filers, the rate increases begin at $125,000 and $250,000 respectively. Eliminates income taxes on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009. Raises estimated $472 million to provide funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services.[30][31]
  • No vote: “No” vote rejects tax changes on incomes at and above $250,000 for households, $125,000 for individual filers. Rejects tax exemption for first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009. Leaves amount currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services underfunded by estimated $472 million.[30][31][32]

Summary

Below is the November 17, 2009 Oregon Legislature final summary of Measure 66.[31][30]

Under current law, a marginal tax rate of 9% applies to taxable household income over $15,200 (or $7,600 for individual filers),taxpayers may deduct federal income taxes paid, unemployment compensation is taxable. Measure eliminates income taxes on first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009. For tax years 2009-2011, the measure increases tax rate 1.8 percentage points on amount of household income between $250,000 and $500,000, by 2 percentage points on amount above $500,000 (for individual filers, rate increases begin at $125,000 and $250,000, respectively). For the tax year beginning 2012, the tax rate for households with income above $250,000 (above $125,000 for single filers) will drop to 9.9%. Measure does not increase tax rate on household income below $250,000 (below $125,000 for individual filers). For households with adjusted gross income at or above $250,000 (or $125,000 for individual filers), reduces federal income tax deduction. Raises $472 million to provide funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services. Because some state money brings in federal matching funds. Oregon will likely receive more federal money if measure passes than if it fails. Other provisions.

Measure 67

See also: Oregon Measure 67 (2010)

The ballot title reads as follows, as of November 17, 2009:[33][31][32]

Raises $10 corporate minimum tax, business minimum tax, corporate profits tax. Provides currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services.
  • Yes vote: “Yes” vote raises $10 corporate minimum tax, establishes $150 minimum tax for most businesses or minimum tax of approximately 0.1% of total Oregon revenues for some corporations with over $500,000 in Oregon revenues. Raises tax rate some corporations pay on profits by 1.3 percentage points. Increases certain business filing fees. Raises estimated $255 million to provide funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services.[33][31]
  • No vote: “No” vote retains $10 corporate minimum income tax, rejects $150 minimum tax, rejects raising corporate profits tax, other changes. Leaves amount currently budget for education, health care, public safety, other services underfunded by estimated $255 million.[33][31][32]

Summary

Below is the November 17, 2009 Oregon Legislature draft summary of Measure 67.[33][31]

Under current law, corporations conducting business in Oregon pay $10 minimum income tax; tax has not changed since 1931. Some corporations pay a profits tax of 6.6%. All other businesses pay no minimum or profits tax. Beginning in tax year 2009, the Measure increase $10 minimum corporate tax to $150; some corporations with over $500,000 in Oregon revenues will pay minimum tax of approximately 0.1% of Oregon revenues. Limits tax to $150 for S corprations and partnerships. Sole proprietors are not impacted by this measure. Raises tax rates some corporations pay on profits by 1.3 percentage points until 2011; increase then drops to 1 percentage point and as of 2013, applies only to profits over $10 million. Corporations pay minimum tax or profits tax, not both. Increases filing fees by $50 for Oregon businesses, by $225 for out of the state business. Raises estimated $255 million to provide funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services. Because some state money brings in federal matching funds, Oregon will likely receive more federal money if measure passes than if the Measure fails. Other provisions.

Tax details

House Bill 2649

For more tax details, see Measure 66 text

House Bill 2649 would, according to the filed legislation:[34]

  • Raise marginal taxes to 10.8% on those making more than $125,000 as an individual (or $250,000 as a couple).
  • Raise to 11% the tax rate for those making more than $250,000 as an individual (or $500,000 as a couple).
  • For personal incomes (a single filer) between $125,000 and $250,000 the tax rate would increase from 9% to 10.8% beginning in 2009
  • For personal incomes (a single filer) above $125,000 the tax rate would increase from 9% to 11%

House Bill 3405

For more tax details, see Measure 66 text

HB 3405 would, according to the filed legislation:[35]

  • Increase the minimum tax for S corporations from $10 to $150.
  • Base the minimum tax for a C corporation on its revenue, up to a $100,000 minimum for a business grossing $100 million or more.
  • 6.6% on the first $250,000 of taxable income and 7.9% on any taxable income above $250,000
    • applies to tax years on or after January 1, 2009 and before January 1, 2011
  • 6.6% on the first $10 million of taxable income and 7.6% on any taxable income above $10 million
    • applies to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2013
  • Increase almost all business filing fees in the state.
  • This tax would go into the state's general fund for four years. It would then be allocated to the state's rainy day fund.

Opponents of tax hike

Vote-no-66-67.jpg

Opponents of the Oregon State Legislature's tax hike organized into a group called Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes.

Groups opposing the hike also included:

  • The Oregon Farm Bureau. According to agricultural businesses the tax hikes, if approved by voters in January, is essentially double taxation. According to business owners after paying a corporate tax earnings would be taxed again as personal income.[36]
  • Americans for Prosperity. This group's Oregon communications director Matt Evans said that his group contacted its 13,000 members in the state to help collect signatures.[5]
  • FreedomWorks, whose director Russ Walker said his Oregon group was "prepared to spend $500,000 or more to gather signatures".[5]
  • The Oregon Republican Party. Bob Tiernan, chairman of the state party, said, "This is the worst time to be raising taxes on business."[37]

Prior to Gov. Kulongoski signing the tax hike into law, opponents opened conversations with a firm called Vote Oregon. Vote Oregon is owned by Kevin Mannix, a former gubernatorial candidate and legislator, Russ Walker, the head of FreedomWorks in Oregon, and Ross Day, a Salem attorney. If hired, Vote Oregon is said to be in charge of gathering signatures for the referendum.[38]

Chief petitioners

See also: Chief petitioner

Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes ad, 11-29-09
  • Sharon Livingston and John Thomas are the chief petitioners for the referendum effort aimed at repealing HB 2649.
  • Sharon Livingston and Brent DeHart are the chief petitioners for the referendum effort aimed at repealing HB 3405.

Arguments

According to opponents of both tax hikes:

  • The taxes "target small and family businesses, the engine of our economy. They target the middle class, and those who need the most help today, family owned businesses who are already having a hard time staying afloat and paying their employees." In other words, the groups argue that the higher taxes on businesses will reduce employment, thus harming the middle-class employees.[39]
  • Tax hikes because of how they impact sales:
    • "If you had simply been talking about income increase...of a temporary basis, that is something we could have discussed and probably lived with...Most business are just barely hanging on right now. If you’re taxing business activity, you’re taxing money that ain’t there," said Jon Chandler, who represented Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes at a November 2009 Associated Oregon Counties convention.[40]
  • Rep. Bruce Hanna and Rep. Tim Freeman argue that any tax increase on business earnings will ultimately be passed on to consumers. Additionally the legislators argue that the increase will encourage high-wage earners to either move elsewhere or relocate their businesses. Hanna said, "Not only are those people with upper incomes investing that capital in our state, they're also very mobile. If you push them to the point of taxation beyond their willingness to pay, they just disappear from your tax roll."[41]
  • Economist Randall Pozdena, in a Cascade Policy Institute report, wrote, "Because it taxes gross income rather than net income, the tax easily may exceed a company's net income and can be tantamount to a net income tax of more than 100 percent. Some business owners may not have sufficient net income to pay the gross sales tax. This provision hits especially hard those businesses that use subcontractors and thus may eliminate even more jobs and inefficiently distort business practices."[42]
  • Rep. Cliff Bentz said the main problem with Measures 66 and 67 is that they don't address job growth. "We need is to create jobs. This will drive away jobs," said Bentz.[43]
  • Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman of Nike, Inc., was the largest single-person contributor to the campaign to defeat the tax reforms.[44] Knight wrote, "There are words to describe what we are doing with 66 and 67: It is called a death spiral."[45]

Donors

As of January 26, 2010 Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes reported raising about $4.56 million.[46][47][48] On November 19, 2009 the group reported a total of $1.44 million in contributions and $421,552 in the bank.[49][50] In August 2009 they reported a total of $750,000.

Below is a chart that outlines major cash contributions to Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes:[51]

Contributor Amount
Associated Oregon Industries PAC $357,000
Oregon Bankers Association $150,000
Nike Chairman Phil Knight $150,000
Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle[52] $75,000
Weyerhauser Company $75,000
Qwest Communications $65,000
Portland Business Alliance $37,000
Oregon Restaurant Association[53] $20,000

Phone banking

According to Oregon Republican Chairman Tiernan, in the days approaching the election opponents will be working with the "GOP phone-banking operation that helped Scott Brown win the Massachusetts Senate election."[54]

Supporters of tax hike

YesOn66&67.jpg

Besides Gov. Ted Kulongoski, supporters of the $733 million tax hike include:

  • Our Oregon. This group is organizing an effort to support the tax hikes. Kevin Looper, a spokesman, said, "The overall campaign can be succinctly summarized as greed vs. need."[37]
  • Former Gov. John Kitzhaber announced in September 2009 that he supports the tax hikes. Kitzhaber, who is a potential candidate for governor in 2010, said,"I don't see any positive outcome from this ballot measure fight. We are going to create enormous divisions and polarizations between business and labor, which are two of the key coalitions that have got to come together if we are going to come out of this recession whole."[55]
  • Oregon State University faculty support both Measures 66 and 67. In a letter on January 20, 2010 university president Dwaine Plaza said,"These tax increases would prevent deeper cuts in education, health and human services and public safety than those already made to address a projected $4 billion shortfall in General Fund revenues. As an educator in higher education, I believe those tax increases are necessary and so a YES vote on Measures 66 and 67 is critical."[56]
  • Defend Oregon is the main organizer for the "Yes on 66 & 67" campaign.

Arguments


Vote Yes For Oregon ad, 11-27-09

According to supporters of both tax hikes:[57]

  • 97.5% of taxpayers will NOT see their taxes increased
  • the taxes protect about $1 billion in services, such as: education, health care and public safety
  • the taxes will preserve class size, preserve jobs, provide health care through the Oregon Health Plan
  • will help protect those "hit the hardest - seniors, children and the unemployed" but the state's economic crisis
  • with the proposed corporate tax Oregon will have the 5th lowest corporate taxes
  • partnerships, LLCs, LLPs and S corporations will pay a flat $150 corporate minimum
  • sole proprietorships will continue to pay $0 in corporate taxes
  • Supporters argue that if measures 66 and 67 aren't approved, jobs will be lost.[58]
  • The minimum corporate tax hasn't been updated since 1931 and would still be the lowest in the Pacific Coast if Measure 67 is approved.[58]
  • Sen. Alan Bates and Rep. Peter Buckley argue that if the measures are not approved by voters, Oregon will face a "downward spiral" in education and public safety. Bates said, "we're barely maintaining K-12 funding...It's been cut, cut, cut for the 10 years I've been in the legislature."[59]

Donors

As of January 26, 2010, "Vote Yes for Oregon"/Defend Oregon reported raising approximately $6.85 million.[46][47] Previously, on November 28, 2009, "Vote Yes for Oregon"/Defend Oregon reported a total of $500,000 and $335,000 in the bank.[60] On November 16, 2009 Defend Oregon reported a total of about $151,000.[61]

Below is a chart that outlines major cash contributions to the "Vote Yes for Oregon" campaign:[62]

Contributor Amount
Oregon Education Association[48] $1.65 million
SEIU Local 503 $850,000
Oregon AFT Political and Legislative Action Network PAC $400,000
Oregon Health Care Association $229,200
American Federation of Teachers $100,000
Oregon School Employees Association $75,000
Nurses United PAC $30,000
Alida Rockefeller Mesinger[52] $25,000
Senate Democratic Leadership Fund[63] $20,000
Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney[53] $10,000

Impact

Statewide impact

  • HB 2649 (income tax): According to the Legislative Revenue Office about 2.5% of the state's income tax filers would be affected, should the tax hike be approved.[39]
    • Of the 407,000 filers who have income from sole proprietorships, partnerships or S-corporations (not subject to the proposed corporate tax increase) 26,000 or 6% have income above the suggested limit and thus would be subject to the proposed income tax increase.[64]
  • HB3405 (corporate tax): The corporate tax increase, according to state officials, would impact 33,600 of the state's corporations who currently pay corporate tax. However, owners of approximately 400,000 other businesses (which include sole proprieterships, limited liability partnerships and S corporations) will not only pay a personal income tax but also, depending on status, pay a $150 minimum corporate tax.[39]

Local impact

  • According to economists, Measures 66 & 67 will cost Oregonians 70,000 jobs.[65]
  • According to officials, the La Grande School District is expected to receive $1.1 million from the tax increases. In June 2009 the district cut $2 million from their budget in light of a decline in state revenue.[66]
  • Other school districts scheduled to receive funds include: Union School District is expected to gain $250,044 from the tax increases; North Powder School District $162,689; Imbler School District $171,055; Elgin School District $240,266; Cove School District $150,919; Enterprise School District $245,368; Joseph School District $150,038; Wallowa School District $148,212; Troy School District $12,639.[66]

Oregon tax studies

Oregon Legislative Revenue Office

The Oregon Legislative Revenue Office, a nonpartisan agency, reports that Oregonians’ total per-capita tax burden in 2006 was 36th highest in the nation. On a percentage-of-income basis Oregon ranked 42nd highest.[67]

Ernst & Young 2008 study

In a 2008 national study of corporate taxes, the Ernst & Young auditing firm found that the largest chunk of taxes businesses pay is property tax, followed by sales taxes. Corporate income tax was a distant third. In Oregon, businesses pay moderate property taxes, no sales tax and a middling corporate income tax rate, all of which make their overall tax burden among the lowest in the nation. Ernst & Young found that Oregon’s tax burden on businesses is the second lowest in the country.[67]

ITEP 2009 study

According to a 2009 nationwide tax study conducted by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), taxes amount to approximately 8.7% of the "poorest Oregonians'" (income below $18,000) total income. Approximately 20% of state residents make below $18,000. On the other hand the taxes total 6.2% of the "richest Oregonians'" (income above $417,000) total income. Only 1% of Oregonians have a yearly income of more than $417,000. According to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, one of the reasons that taxes total a greater percent for lower-income residents is that wealthier people can usually claim more deductions and credits.[68][69][70]

Television ads

See also: Oregon Tax Hike Vote (2010), opponents, TV ads

Tax hike opponents:[71]

  • On November 29, 2009, Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes released their first television ad in opposition to the tax hike measures. The ad, labeled as "Obama Says" on YouTube.com, uses an August 5, 2009 interview by NBC with President Barack Obama. In the clip, Obama flatly rejects the notion of raising taxes during a recession. Raising taxes, said Obama, "would take more demand out of the economy and put business in a further hole."[72]
  • On December 1, 2009, they released their second ad, titled “Please Remit.” In the clip, a woman learns that the tax increases are retroactive to January 1, 2009, even though no money has been withheld from Oregonians’ paychecks to cover the extra tax.[73]
  • On December 28, 2009, a third clip titled “Doesn’t Matter” hit the airwaves. The ad says the state has increased spending every year for more almost three decades. The ad says 2009-11 budget was $4.7 billion larger than the last. The announcer says, “Tell state government to tighten its belt like the rest of us.” [74]
  • On January 12, 2010, measure opponents released a fourth clip titled "Measure 66 & 67 will hurt small businesses." The clip features a workers being laid off from a bakery. According to spokesperson Pat McCormick the ad was not meant to be specific to the bakery business but instead to feature the effects of a increasing taxes during a tough economy.[75][76]


See also: Oregon Tax Hike Vote (2010), supporters, TV ads

Tax hike supporters:[71]

  • On November 27, 2009, Vote Yes For Oregon released the first television ad in support of the tax hike measures. The ad emphasizes the need to raise the state's minimum corporate tax and adds that the tax hikes will "protect the middle class and make the big corporations finally pay their share." Of the "Obama Says" ad by tax-hike opponents, Vote Yes For Oregon said the quote is "out-of-context" and argues that the president was referring to federal taxes and not state taxes.[77]
  • On December 9, 2009, they released their second ad, titled “On the Brink.” The ad says that "Oregon can no longer afford to let big corporations and the rich off the hook" and argues that Measure 66 and 67 will help "protect our schools and basic services."[78]
  • On December 23, 2009, a third clip titled “We Have a Choice” was released. The ad says that Oregonians have to make a choice to "respond to this recession" - either raise taxes on big corporations or deeper cuts in education and health care.[79]
  • On January 5, 2010, a fourth clip was released - "$10 is Not Enough." The ad addresses the bank bailouts and argues that the same banks and corporations that received need to pay their fair share of taxes.[80]
  • January 13, 2010, measure supporters released a fifth clip titled "Two Numbers." The video argues that families with income less than $250,000 won't be affected by the proposed tax increase.[81][76]

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Oregon ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Register-Guard supports Measures 66 and 67: "The past few decades have made Oregon a low-tax, low-service state. Continuing in that direction will not lead to a better future, particularly if revenue shortfalls cause the state to further shortchange education. Legislators did the right thing by acting to slow the trends that have guided the state since 1990, and plugging 20 percent of the budgetary shortfall with modest taxes to be paid by those who can best afford them."[82]
  • The Daily Astorian supports both Measures 66 and 67. In an editorial announcing their endorsement they said, "Saying 'no' will trigger budget cutting that will inevitably shrink social services at a time of great need, and cause another round of cuts in the schools.Measures 66 and 67 are aimed at the wealthiest individual taxpayers and at some businesses...Even with the tax increase on some businesses in these ballot measures, Oregon will remain a relatively low tax-burden state for business."[83]

Opposition

  • The Oregonian is opposed to Measure 66 and 67. On January 4, the editorial board wrote," The bottom line, though, is that the Legislature can do better than Measures 66 and 67, whether in the February session or in 2011 and beyond. Lawmakers can work closely with business to craft a careful, responsible increase in corporate taxes. They can refer kicker reform to Oregon voters and explain, this time with the help of business leaders, why it's vital that this state never again be caught with such a volatile tax system and so little in reserve."[84]
  • The Forest Grove News-Times is opposed to both Measures 66 and 67. "We realize that defeating these measures will create a $472 million budget headache for lawmakers at their special section next month. But we’re convinced the state can get by with a combination of temporary, smaller revenue measures and by finding additional ways to save money. In this way, Oregon can balance its budget without subjecting our fragile recovery to the risks posed by the permanent tax hikes and take a long-overdue step toward real tax reform."[85]

Ballot title controversy

A special panel was organized to write the ballot titles for Measure 66 and Measure 67. The panel consisted of four Democratic members and two Republicans. However, some Oregonians said that they are worried about possible ballot title bias. Democratic legislators have in the past spoken in favor of the tax increases and argue that they are necessary to balance the state budget.If a problem does arise once the ballot titles have been written the language can be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court.[86] Senate President Peter Courtney said, "The committee will write a ballot title that will make it clear to voters what they are voting on."[87]

Measure 66: Some of the specific concerns include:[88][89]

  • allegations that the ballot titles were not written in an impartial manner
  • "important information that might reflect negatively on the tax increases" was omitted
  • uses "poli-tested words" and "speculative language" aimed to persuade voters to vote in favor of the measure[90]

Measure 67: Some of the specific concerns include:[91][92]

  • allegations that the ballot titles were not written in an impartial manner
  • "important information that might reflect negatively on the tax increases" was omitted
  • uses "poli-tested words" and "speculative language" aimed to persuade voters to vote in favor of the measure[90]

Legal challenge

The ballot title issue went before the Oregon Supreme Court after a complaint against the ballot language was filed. Pat McCormick argued that the title did not adhere to the usual 15-word limit. Additionally, McCormick argued that the title did not state "how the Legislature will react to its defeat." However, Geoff Sugerman, spokesperson for House Speaker Dave Hunt, said that the title language is accurate, "fair and straightforward."[90]

Court ballot title ruling

On November 13, 2009, the Oregon Supreme Court slightly modified the ballot title wording of two 2010 tax hike referendum measures - Measure 66 and Measure 67.[93] The main point of argument surrounded a sentence included in both ballot titles: "Maintains funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services." Tax opponents argued that the sentence was pure "speculation" and should be omitteded from the title, however, the court ruled instead to replace the word "maintains" with "provides."[94] Additionally, the court changed the wording of the "no vote" description to read: "Leaves amount currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services underfunded." Previously, it had read, "Reduces funding currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services by estimated $472 million."[32][95]

Opponents question constitutionality

On November 12, 2009 John DiLorenzo, attorney representing tax hike opponents, requested a preliminary injunction on Measures 66 and 67. DiLorenzo argued that the ballot titles, written by a special legislative panel, are unconstitutional. Specifically, DiLorenzo questioned if the legislature had the power to write the ballot titles, a job that is usually performed by the attorney general.[96]

Judge dismisses injunction

On November 17, 2009 Marion County Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb dismissed a proposed preliminary injunction against both Ballot measure 66 and 67. According to the judge's ruling, the Oregon Supreme Court's November review of the ballot titles was sufficient to ensure the legality of the proposed ballot measures scheduled to appear on the 2010 ballot.[97]

Referendum law controversy

In a controversial move on June 24, 2009 the legislative Democratic lawmakers proposed an amendment to an election bill that would change wording to state referendums. In the case of the Oregon Tax Hike Referendum, a "yes" vote would mean rejecting a tax hike and a "no" vote would mean a vote to raise taxes. House Democratic leader Mary Nolan believes that this change of wording to statewide referenda will clarify to voters the issue they are voting on

According to ballot measure campaign consultant Mark Nelson, who opposes a tax increase: "It’s outrageous. It basically is trying to, in effect, trick the voters."[98]

It is unclear when the change to the election bill will appear on the House floor according to reports.

Arguments in voters' pamphlet

According to reports and the official Oregon voters' pamphlets, Measure 66 and 67 supporters filed arguments under both the "arguments in favor" and the "arguments in opposition" sections.[99] The state's Election Division reports that state law allows for submissions of pro and con arguments "will go where the submitters intend them to go." Don Hamilton, spokesperson for the division said,"That’s where they wanted them and that’s where they were placed. It’s within the law."[100]

Our Oregon paid $500 for each of its four argument submissions, including pro and con for Measure 66 and 67. According to Scott Moore, the group spokesperson, said the group wanted to make sure they had the first and last opposition arguments. The state is required to publish the arguments in the order in which they are received. According to reports, Pat McCormick, spokesperson for the opposition said, "They think they’re really fun when they do this, but the voters are smarter than the proponents give them credit for being, and they’ll see that those are not arguments in opposition at all."[100]

Measure 66 Voters' Guide arguments can be viewed here.

Measure 67 Voters' Guide arguments can be viewed here.

Election law complaint about tax surveys

On January 5, 2010 the League of Women Voters of Oregon, which supports both Measures 66 and 67, filed an election law complaint against political consultant Mark Nelson's recent survey. Nelson's firm is managing the oppositions campaign. According to the complaint Nelson's survey "appears intended to confuse voters" and could lead some voters to believe they have voted after returning the survey. Nelson argues that he has been sending mail surveys in the same format for years.[101] Secretary of State Kate Brown declined to issue any penalty against Nelson but said she wanted stricter adherence to the law in regards to the identification of ballot-like materials.[102]

The survey can be viewed here.

Legislation proposed on ballot-like mailings

Senate Bill 1062 was proposed following the controversy surrounding Nelson's ballot-like mailings during the Oregon Measure 66 and 67 campaigns. On February 18 the Senate approved the proposed legislation 27 to 2. However, the bill requires approval from both the House and the Senate. According to the proposed legislation, ballot-like materials will have to display disclaimers "THIS IS NOT A REAL BALLOT. DO NOT USE TO VOTE" in large print. Additionally, return envelopes will also have to display the disclaimer.[102][103]

Path to the ballot

See also Oregon signature requirements and 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs

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.[104]
  • The Oregon legislature is currently set to adjourn in "late June".[105]
  • 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.

Signatures to qualify the measure for the January 2010 ballot were submitted Friday, September 25, 2009. Referendum supporters announced that as of September 18 they had stopped collecting signatures. Signature gatherers had to collect a minimum of 55,179 valid signatures to place the measure on the ballot. The group did not release a figure to the media about exactly how many signatures they collected but said it was "a comfortable margin."[106]

Filed signatures

On Friday, September 25, 2009, referendum supporters filed 129,500 for the personal income tax measure and 126,183 signatures for the corporate measure, according to referendum supporters.[107] State elections officials had exactly 30 days to verify the signatures.[108]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
  • A November 30 - December 2 poll on Measure 66 and 67 by Rick Lindholm revealed that 40% of polled voters were in favor of Measure 66, while 46% were in favor of Measure 67. The poll surveyed 400 registered voters by telephone from November 30 through December 2. According to the report, the poll has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.[109][110]
  • In late December 2009 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted a poll, which sampled approximately 610 voters, on Measures 66 & 67 paid for by "Vote Yes for Oregon."According to the poll results 55% of voters favored both measures, while 38% were against the tax measures.[111]
    • Measure 66 & 67 opponents, however, have discredited the poll as PR for the "Vote Yes for Oregon" campaign. According to opponent spokesperson Pat McCormick the data is not an accurate portrayal of Oregon voters and was "clearly intended to sway public opinion in their direction."[111]
  • January 14-15: OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting), Fox 12, the Portland Tribune & Community Newspapers conducted a poll on Measures 66 and 67 using the Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, Inc. (DHM). According to the results, for Measure 66: 49% said they were in favor of the measure, while 38% planned to vote "no." On Measure 67: 49% planned to vote "yes" and 38% planned to vote "no." Approximately 500 voters were polled.[112][113][114][115]
  • January 18-20: Rick Lindholm conducted their third poll on both measures. This poll revealed that Measure 66 was leading with 50% in support and 39% opposed to the measure. Measure 67 was leading 51% to 40%.[116][117]
  • On January 21 Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, Inc. (DHM) conducted a second poll on Measure 66 and 67. The results revealed that 50% of polled voters were in favor of Measure 66 and 44% were against; on Measure 67 48% were in favor and 45% were against the measure. The margin of error in the poll is 4.4%.[118][119][120]
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Measure 66

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided
Nov. 30-Dec. 2 Rick Lindholm 40% 36% 25%
December 2009 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (on both Measure 66 & 67) 55% 38% 7%


Jan. 4-6 Rick Lindholm 45% 34% 21%
Jan. 14-15 OPB, Fox 12, the Portland Tribune & Community Newspapers 52% 39% 9%
Jan. 18-20 Rick Lindholm 50% 39% 11%
January 21 Davis, Hibbits, Midghall Inc. 50% 44% 6%

Measure 67

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided
Nov. 30-Dec. 2 Rick Lindholm 46% 33% 21%
December 2009 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (on both Measure 66 & 67) 55% 38% 7%
Jan. 4-6 Rick Lindholm 51% 34% 15%
Jan. 14-15 OPB, Fox 12, the Portland Tribune & Community Newspapers 50% 40% 10%
Jan. 18-20 Rick Lindholm 51% 40% 9%
January 21 Davis, Hibbits, Midghall Inc. 48% 45% 7%

See also

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Suggest a link


Tax hike supporters

Tax hike opponents

Ballotpedia articles

External links

Measure 66

Measure 67

Additional reading

Aftermath

Campaign articles

Editorials

References

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