Don’t End Tax Increase Warnings

CascadeNewLogoIn the late 1990s Oregon voters approved measures that require envelopes containing certain property tax measures to be boldly stamped in red with this warning: CONTAINS VOTE ON PROPOSED TAX INCREASE.

Now, public employee unions are asking the legislature to end this practice on the grounds that the ballots themselves contain clear information about proposed tax hikes. What the unions don’t say is that without these bold warnings, many potential voters won’t even open the envelopes to discover what’s in store for them if the measures pass. Unopened envelopes mean fewer potential No votes, which is just what the unions want.

Another argument against the warnings is that they unfairly apply to some tax measures, but aren’t required for others. That’s true. But, rather than end the current warnings, we should print them on envelopes that contain tax increase votes of any kind. The unions won’t like this, but many taxpayers will.

The legislation aimed at killing the warnings is House Bill 3113. It has already had one public hearing that generated little public opposition. Unless more people stand up and oppose it, the bill may become law.

That would end what Jason Williams of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon calls the “common courtesy that we’re about to knock the daylights out of you with a tax increase.”

Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in State Taxes, Taxes | Tagged , , , , | 54 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • marvinmcconoughey

    Concur. Knowledge is generally held to be meritorious. It is strange that public employee unions should be promoting ignorance.

  • 3H

    Why are tax measures more important than any other measure? Why not bold red letters warning voters that the measure discriminates against a group of citizens, or amends the constitution? Are those truly less deserving than tax measures?

    • Steve Buckstein

      Perhaps they’re more important because more taxes reduce your ability to speak up about the other issues that concern you.

      • 3H

        So taxes are the most important issue out there and everything else takes a back seat in importance?
        Do you have a study that shows a direct correlation between freedom and ability to speak and the tax rate?
        How would an increased tax rate hinder my ability to speak up about other issues? Have you seen that happen, and if not, how likely of a scenario do you believe that to be?

        • Steve Buckstein

          You obviously don’t believe that money = speech. Try running an initiative signature campaign and then promote your idea on the ballot if those who are inclined to support you don’t have the discretionary income to donate because they were taxed too much.

          If you think other ideas are more important than taxes, then by all means lobby to have warnings added to every ballot envelope, or at least to the ones with ideas you think are important.

          • 3H

            If a ballot initiative was the only way to express yourself you may have a point. But it isn’t, and you don’t. The fact is, regardless of the tax rate, the vast majority of people don’t have the resources to mount their own initiative signature drive and the resulting campaign. This has nothing to do with taxes. It may, however, have something to do with income inequality.

            Unless, of course, you don’t believe that politics has always been a rich man’s game. Seriously, how many of us could throw intiative after initiative at issues like Loren Parks? And why is it right that some people, if one accepts your premise, should have a better ability to “speak up about the other issues that concern…” them simplyl based on the amount of money they have? As far as I can tell, the rich do not possess any special insight into politics, democracy, or the running of a country.

            Do you think tax issues are the single most important issue that can be decided on a ballot?

            Since we could quickly run out of room on envelope if we were to inform voters of what was being voted on, why don’t we make it fair and not favor any type of ballot measure over another? Why is that such a bad idea?

          • Steve Buckstein

            It’s a bad idea because the tax increase warning is already on the envelopes. Removing it is a step in the wrong direction; the direction of less transparency.

          • 3H

            Then you would be in favor of listing the general nature of all the ballot measures in the envelope?

          • ASDF

            You’re arguing with an idiot troll, Steve.

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