Will huge new Measure 97 (IP 28) taxes be ‘for the kids’?


by NW Spotlight

The public employee unions behind Oregon’s Measure 97 (IP 28) say that the $3 billion per year in new taxes will go “to better fund Oregon’s schools, health care and senior services.” Those new taxes will be borne by businesses like Powell’s Books.

The Oregon Business Association reports “this unprecedented new tax would increase costs for working families and consumers and would hurt businesses in our state without any guarantee the money will make it into our classrooms or help our schools. That’s because all of the money from this measure goes to the General Fund with no plan and no accountability for how IP28’s billions in new taxes would be spent.”

So is there any guarantee that Measure 97’s billions of dollars in new taxes will be ‘for the kids’? Or even for health care and senior services and not pet priorities?

No, there isn’t.

Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville) recently asked the non-partisan Oregon Legislative Counsel about that. Here are several of the key takeaways from their response:

“You asked whether section 3 of Ballot Measure 97 (2016) (Initiative Petition 28) is binding to limit the ability of the Legislative Assembly to appropriate revenues that would be generated by the passage of Measure 97. The answer is no. Section 3 would not bind a future legislature in its spending decisions. If Measure 97 becomes law, the Legislative Assembly may appropriate revenues generated by the measure in any way it chooses.”

“In this instance, section 3 of Measure 97 purports to limit the ability of the Legislative Assembly to spend certain tax revenues for purposes other than those listed in the section. This would impermissibly attempt to limit by statute the plenary exercise of the legislative power vested in the Legislative Assembly by Article IV, section 1, of the Oregon Constitution. A statute such as section 3 may not limit the constitutional power of the Legislative Assembly to pass subsequent laws. Any such limitations must be in the Oregon Constitution. Therefore, any subsequent law enacted by the Legislative Assembly that spent the tax revenues in a way that is contrary to section 3 would be a valid enactment of the Legislative Assembly.”

UPDATE (8/3/2016)Statesman Journal: Corporate tax measure doesn’t specify spending