We’re always skeptical when a supporter or opponent of a ballot measure comes out with a study supporting their position. Boy, were we right to be skeptical about the Our Oregon-funded study on Measure 97, the $3 billion corporate tax increase on the November ballot.
The union-backed group tried to get Portland State economists to rewrite and revise the study to make it more favorable toward the group’s Measure 97, as The Oregonian reported. Our Oregon also asked Tom Potiowsky, an economist working on the study, to refrain from speaking to reporters about it before checking in with Our Oregon. Potiowsky, who is the former state economist, agreed.
The bottom line is the study was no independent, objective analysis. It was a Portland State project as directed by Our Oregon.
Our Oregon asked the economists to include that the state could afford to take on more debt with the new revenue. The economists obliged.
We don’t think the ability for the state to run up its debt is all that flattering, but we never said Our Oregon always made sense.
We should note Portland State economists did reject two Our Oregon requests. The rejections expose two of Measure 97’s biggest flaws.
For instance, other economists have said the tax will be regressive — hit the poor harder. Our Oregon tried to argue that the measure, formerly called IP 28, was somehow different and that would not happen. That was rejected.
Other economists have pointed out that the structure of the tax could lead to tax pyramiding — the same item could be hit by the tax multiple times as it went through the production process. Our Oregon tried to get that changed, too. That was also rejected.
Katherine Driessen, a spokeswoman for Our Oregon, told The Oregonian the meddling was just part of a standard editing process.
“We were setting the scope of the work,” she said. “We certainly wanted to make sure the end product was good and accurate.”