Some in Oregon believe the government that governs best taxes more. And to carry out their dreams, they aim to change the wording of the Oregon Constitution to make it easier to raise taxes.
Voters should tell them no.
In fact, voters did. Voters inserted into the state constitution in 1996 language that requires bills “raising revenue” to win a three-fifths majority in both chambers of the Legislature.
Our Oregon, the labor-backed political nonprofit, has proposed two bad ideas to change that. The first bad idea is Initiative Petition 38. It would change the constitution so that a three-fifths majority would be required only for changes to personal income tax. The second bad idea is worse. Initiative Petition 39 would entirely eliminate the three-fifths majority requirement — only a simple majority would be needed for passing any revenue raising bill.
What’s the good reason for making it easy to raise taxes? Have the Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown showed any sincere eagerness to tackle the pension debt and cut costs? Nope.
Voters should already be questioning if some legislators and Brown can be trusted with existing taxing authority. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 28 with less than a three-fifths majority in both Houses. Brown signed it. The bill raises taxes on some businesses by changing the way a tax worked. Some business would pay increased taxes. Some businesses would pay a tax they did not have to pay before the law was changed.
If that is not a revenue raising bill, what is? If that didn’t violate voters’ intent, what does? It’s a great lesson in how politics works and what politicians think about voter intent. Their argument was that it wasn’t a new tax. It was just tweaking a tax, so increasing taxes was OK.
Voters should let Oregon politicians know just how they feel about Our Oregon’s measures and decline to sign the petitions to get them on the November ballot.