By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Consider who gets Measure 97 billions

An attorney from Portland and a citizen-politician from Klamath Falls win this week’s nod for thought-provoking commentary about state financial management and the call for an unprecedented tax increase.

James Kearney, a partner in the Portland firm of Stoel Rives, teed off on Measure 97 this week in a letter to The Oregonian; state Sen. Doug Whitsett, a veterinarian turned horse trainer, provided timely background last month in an online blog post about state financial boondoggles.

Starting with Kearney, an admitted supporter of a broad-based state sales tax:

“I’ve been open about my love of sales taxes, (but) this one stinks. It’s dishonest because it’s invisible to customers at the cash register, and it’s unfair because it applies differently to companies in the same industry … the tax is particularly bad for low-margin C corporations, like grocery stores and other retailers, because it’s based on sales and not profit.”

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Oregonians will be drawn to Measure 97 because it taxes only companies with more than $25 million in Oregon sales — you know, those evil big corporations that we’re told do not pay their fair share of state taxes. As Kearney and others know, however, hidden taxes on businesses are passed along to consumers, so Measure 97 would become a hidden tax on citizens who already pay more than their share.

The details of Measure 97 are fine fodder for debate, but perhaps more interesting is the backdrop of Oregon state government financial mismanagement. Sen. Whitsett’s comments opened with such phrases as “Democratic dominance,” “spending addiction” and “multi-million dollar boondoggles.”

“State officials,” he wrote, “have spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars on attempted social engineering and ‘market transformations,’ often under the guise of protecting the environment. Their explanations are usually devoid of any accountability for the use of other people’s money.”

Whitsett recalled Measures 66 and 67 in 2009, when Oregonians began their flirtation with hidden taxes on Oregon sales. That vote responded to the same business-maligning rhetoric you will hear over the next two months from supporters of Measure 97.

Since 2009, major increases in state government revenues have been frittered away through mismanagement of computer and radio systems, national health care, the Columbia River crossing and last year’s extension of the Clean Fuels program, to name a few. Along the way, there have been child care scandals, broken promises, low graduation rates and a gubernatorial scandal.

Remember: Those same people would be managing the $3 billion in annual hidden taxes from Measure 97.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

Comments

Don Dix

"Remember: Those same people would be managing the $3 billion in annual hidden taxes from Measure 97."

To assume that this money would be 'managed' is a hopefully blind assumption. 'Massaged' or 'manipulated' is the likely verb!

gophergrabber

I love big business.It makes gasoline readily available, drugs that are better today and provide them for us, Walmart who sells cheaper than other places. In addition, business will NOT pay for this ridiculous sales tax: the people who buy their products do.

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