Supporters say Measure 97 will direct $3 billion a year in new taxes to Oregonians who need it most: schoolchildren, the elderly and those who rely on the state for health care. That’s not true. In fact, some of the money has to go to the state’s transportation system.

An article in the Aug. 26 edition of Willamette Week noted that the Oregon Constitution requires that any tax on motor fuels sold in the state be used on “public highways, roads, streets and public rest areas.”

Oregonians will decide the fate of Measure 97 in November. The measure, the work of public employee unions, would levy a 2.5 percent tax on all C corporations with Oregon sales of $25 million or more, whether the companies are profitable or not. Supporters of Measure 97 argue it will apply to relatively few businesses, though no one knows for sure just what companies will have to pony up.

That said, it’s reasonable to expect that at least some motor fuel providers sell products worth $25 million in Oregon. There’s no guarantee that they’ll just allow the tax to eat into revenues without raising prices.

No one knows for certain just how much in added fuel taxes the companies would pay, but the group behind Measure 97 says it could be as much as $100 million annually. That’s money that likely would go directly to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

So at first Measure 97 supporters claimed the money would go to schools, the elderly and health care. Then we learned that is not true. We learned the tax is likely regressive and would hit the poor harder. We learned it would likely tax essentials, with no exemptions for food and medicine. We learned the tax could pyramid — a tax on a tax on a tax as some items move through the production process. We learned the tax was likely to cost private sector jobs and add government jobs.

Now we learn another thing supporters didn’t tell us about — some of the money would not be spent as promoters have said. What more bad news is to come about Measure 97?

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