Jonathan House/Portland Tribune
SALEM — The next face-off between Oregon business and public unions might take the form of dueling ballot measures Nov. 6.
Our Oregon, author of Measure 97, has filed two initiative petitions in response to a business-devised ballot proposal to strengthen the state’s constitutional requirement for a three-fifths majority to pass tax bills.
“This is our ongoing effort at Our Oregon to make sure corporations are paying their fair share and that we have increased transparency around business taxes,” said Katherine Driessen, communications director for the labor-backed political nonprofit group.
Our Oregon’s Initiative Petition 38, The Protect Oregon Taxpayers Act, would amend the Constitution to allow the state Legislature to approve new taxes with a simple majority, rather than a three-fifths vote.
Initiative Petition 39, The True Majority Act, would require a three-fifths majority only for personal income tax increases on individuals. The act would amend the constitution to allow lawmakers to pass taxes on businesses with a simple majority vote.
The business community’s Initiative Petition 31 would “codify business’s ability to not pay their fair share and make it increasingly difficult to pay for schools and other state services,” Driessen said.
Also known as “A Tax is a Tax Amendment,” the proposal would require a three-fifths majority vote by the state Legislature to increase taxes or fees, including changes to exemptions, credits and deductions. It was filed by Art Kegler of the Oregon Association of Realtors and West Linn real estate agent Alan Mehrwein.
“The business community’s consensus is likely to be in support of IP 31,” said Pat McCormick, who was involved in the campaign against Measure 97. “Completely retracting the provision makes little sense. It is a fail-safe ensuring a strong consensus before additional revenue is raised.”
The campaigns are at different stages in signature gathering. IP 31 has already received a ballot title. Our Oregon is in the beginning stages of collecting the 1,000 signatures needed to obtain a ballot title.
The campaigns must collect 117,578 signatures by to win a place on the November ballot.
Business and labor groups clashed last year in a nearly $50 million battle over Our Oregon’s ultimately unsuccessful Measure 97. The measure would have levied taxes on the sales of certain corporations.
Some business leaders have said they would accept an increase in corporate taxes, only if Oregon reigns in its public employee pension costs and delivers better results for the money it spends on education and other state services.