THE AVENUE JANUARY 26, 2010
Initial ballot results should come in around 11 p.m. Eastern tonight for Oregon’s proposal to tax high-earners and businesses to cover a $733 million shortfall in the state budget. If passed, Measure 66 would increase the income tax by two percentage points on those earning over $125,000. Its companion, Measure 67, would institute a graduated corporate income tax that would take a bigger bite of large companies’ earnings.
Both were passed by the supermajority Democratic legislature last year but were placed on the ballot after opponents, mostly business and anti-tax advocates, gathered enough signatures. Phil Knight, chairman of Nike, called the measures “Oregon’s Assisted Suicide Law II.”
Many local governments however, have already pared services drastically. This past Sunday, the New York Times looked at Central Point’s move to a four-day school week in the context of the tax measures.
In light of state budget crises around the nation, and consequent local fiscal travails, the vote has been portrayed as a referendum on the public’s appetite for higher taxes in the midst of a sluggish recovery.
When Oregon eventually gets its all-mail ballots counted, the results will also be likely touted as a key bellwether, or not, of national political currents.
UPDATE: With about 800,00 ballots in, both measures are passing strongly. However, Oregon's voters tend to be extremely last minute, even with the all mail voting system. Over 1 million ballots have already been cast according to the Oregonian.
UPDATE2: Both measures pass easily with over 1.2 million ballots cast, representing 58 percent voter turnout.