Monday, January 04, 2010

OREGONIAN: "Wrong time, wrong tax hikes: Vote no on Measures 66, 67"

It's not everyday that I agree with the Portland Oregonian Newspaper's Editorial Board but I sure agree with their Sunday editorial on ballot Measures 66 & 67
By The Oregonian Editorial Board
January 03, 2010, 8:43AM
Of all times, of all things, the Democrats in the Oregon Legislature chose now, in the throes of one of the worst recessions in history, to make business an enemy. They chose this moment to pit business against schools, the private sector against public unions, employers against the jobless.

The two referrals on the Jan. 26 special election ballot -- Measure 66 and Measure 67 -- insist that Oregonians pick a side, to accept one lousy, harmful choice or the other. No, we won't do it. You shouldn't, either.

It didn't have to come to this. The Democrats who control the Legislature could have approved a modest and mostly temporary package of business tax increases with the full support of the Oregon Business Association, which represents many of the state's largest and most public-minded corporations.

Instead, Democrats bent to the demands of the most liberal members of their House caucus and approved an unwise and ill-timed package of corporate and personal tax increases that has infuriated virtually every business group and commercial sector in Oregon....

...the Democrats buried kicker reform and chose to fill a large hole in the budget by tacking more onto Oregon's already high personal income taxes -- exacerbating the top-heavy volatility of the state's tax system. The self-described progressives in the House caucus further insisted that income tax increases on wealthier Oregonians -- mostly business owners and professionals, otherwise known as employers -- be permanent, not levied just long enough to get the state through its budget crisis.

The supporters of the tax measures bristle now at any suggestion of class warfare, but they are spending millions of dollars on advertisements claiming that the measures are not about you, but about them -- those lucky few rich Oregonians not paying their "fair share." They don't bother to explain how paying one of the nation's highest income taxes amounts to skating on one's responsibilities.

This is ugly stuff, at an especially ugly time in Oregon. People are suffering, business is hurting, plunging tax revenues have ripped a $727 million hole in the state budget. There were, of course, no easy, pain-free and non-controversial ways for the Legislature to fill that hole and protect schools, public safety and other essential services.

But there were, and still are, better ways than Measures 66 and 67. Oregon doesn't have to tack a permanent increase onto the income tax that lands on the very people Oregon most needs to invest more in their businesses and their employees. It doesn't have to replace the absurdly low $10 minimum corporate tax with a new scheme that would force businesses with high sales volumes but no profits to pay up to $100,000 a year in minimum taxes even as they fight to cut their losses and hold on to as many jobs as they can.

Oregon doesn't have to further polarize its politics at the very moment the state ought to be pulling together to solve its very serious problems. Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Dave Hunt keep telling us that they did everything possible last session to accommodate the interests and needs of Oregon business. Why, then, is there more anger and hostility in Oregon between business and labor, and between business and state government, today than at any time in recent memory? .....

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.

Those are the measures that Oregonians should be preparing to vote on in the coming days. Instead, the Legislature has presented voters with accept-them-or-else tax increases that strike at the very businesses and employers that Oregon is depending on to lead an economic recovery, start hiring again and pay the wages that support state services.

That's not what Oregon needs. Vote no on 66 and 67.

(To read the entire editorial click on the title for a link)

Talk about "Class Warfare" ..... all you have to do is look at the TV ads in favor of the measures. They show a picture of a nice house and say the measure will only effect "them"... the "wealthy!"