Oregon voters passed a pair of tax increases yesterday.
The tax increases, which would raise about $727 million largely for public education and social services, were approved last year by the Legislature, but later put to a public referendum after opponents gathered signatures in a petition campaign.
The Legislature, controlled by Democrats, has already put the $727 million into the current budget. So if the ballot items, known as Measures 66 and 67, had been rejected, lawmakers would have been forced to hold a special session to find other ways to reduce spending or raise revenue.
Tax measures have frequently failed at the polls in Oregon, one of only five states without a state sales tax. The state depends largely on income and property taxes to raise revenue.
Experts noted that, given the broader recession and Oregon’s 11 percent unemployment rate, Measures 66 and 67 had been carefully drawn to focus on wealthier residents and businesses.
I hope the folks in Tallahassee are paying attention; it is possible to raise taxes to keep the lights on and the ceilings from caving in at the schools and do it with public approval. Not everyone’s a money-grubbing tight-fisted IGMFY* knee-jerk “cut my taxes!” shrieker.
*”I Got Mine, Fuck You”