Measure 97 jeopardizes Bend’s progress


by Rep. Knute Buehler and Dino Vendetti

Bend and Central Oregon are growing. With easy access to all forms of outdoor recreation, good local schools, expanding higher-education opportunities at the OSU-Cascades campus and direct-flight connections to key cities, Bend and Central Oregon have emerged from the Great Recession as an economic and lifestyle destination for a diverse community of entrepreneurs, dreamers and doers.

But Ballot Measure 97 — the $6 billion tax on corporate sales — is a direct threat to the progress and opportunities being created in the region.

By now, perhaps you’ve heard the major problems with Ballot Measure 97. First, it raises a whopping $6 billion every two years — a 30 percent increase in the state budget with no plans, controls or guarantees on how this huge influx of new revenue will be spent by the governor or Salem politicians. Second, it’s a highly regressive new tax, with no exemptions for food, medicine or monthly utilities. The tax will hit seniors on fixed incomes and middle/lower-income families particularly hard. And third, an independent analysis estimates the tax will cost more than 38,000 private-sector jobs over the next six years.

In all states that levy a personal income tax, more than 80 percent of the tax base is derived from personal, not corporate, tax. Oregon is no exception. Therefore, driving companies away and/or eliminating private-sector jobs that generate tax revenues is no way to strengthen communities and grow the tax base. For these reasons alone, voters should reject Measure 97.

Oregon doesn’t exist in isolation. As the U. S. and world economies grow more interconnected each day, Oregon now has 49 other state competitors for talent and capital. Technology has made it possible for workers in a knowledge-based economy to live nearly anywhere. Bend is now seen as one of the nation’s leading entrepreneurial cities making a successful transition from a natural resource to knowledge-based local economy.

In a knowledge-based economy, people are the most valuable assets and investment for businesses. And unlike a factory, people can easily move — to here and away from here. Tax policies, like Measure 97, will influence whether companies and people choose to locate here in the first place, or worse, relocate to a more tax-friendly environment. Measure 97 will hit startup companies particularly hard, since startups frequently have large gross receipts but little profit for many years. Measure 97 taxes receipts — not profits.

Oregon must invest more in K-12, higher education and the other critical infrastructure needed to thoughtfully manage growth. But Measure 97 isn’t the solution. Over the long term, it will actually weaken the economic foundation of our state.

Here in Bend, we’re enjoying the benefits — and challenges — that come with being a desirable place to live, work and play. According to Bruce Cleveland, founder of Bend Polytechnic Academy, “We are focused on providing Oregon students with the skills in high demand by industry. Workers with these skills will attract companies to start in or relocate to Bend and Central Oregon, especially technology companies whose employees value community, education, family and the environment. These companies and workers will provide a stable and large tax base we need to support our schools, seniors and other critical infrastructure projects.” Kollective is an example of a tech company that recently relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to Bend and hired a BendPoly graduate.

Let’s not jeopardize our progress by passing a risky, extreme new tax.

Rep. Knute Buehler represents Bend (House District 54) in the Oregon Legislature. Dino Vendetti is the founding General Partner at Seven Peaks Ventures, located in Bend.

  • Jack Lord God

    “Oregon must invest more in K-12, higher education and the other critical infrastructure”

    Why? Spending on education has little correlation with outcome. Oregon isn’t at the bottom in per pupil spending by any means, however our graduation rates consistently are. Nationally we spend more per pupil than just about every other country on the planet, yet our schools are a joke. So why exactly is it logical that we need to spend more?

    If you concede the argument, that throwing money at a problem with zero accountability will solve it, then really all you are doing is tinkering around the edges. You have conceded that new tax revenue is needed, all you really seem to have a problem with is where to get it. Essentially you are arguing semantics and nomenclature but clearly agree with the premise that increasing government spending is necessary.

    • Connie Kosuda

      you remember , ‘children is our future”, yes?

      it’s for the future of this great land of ours /

      the rich get richer, children need the best education possible, and this very modest proposal is well-reasoned, enlightened, and long overdue.

      • David Clark

        Give us a break–this measure WILL TAX the POOR to give more money to rich bureaucrats and their cronies. It will supply more money for the corrupt government to give to their rich buddies that in turn make big campaign contributions.

        • Connie Kosuda’s Inner Dialogue

          Connie is probably assuming that all the poor will become public employees after the revenue boon.

      • oregongrown


        You, and all your cohorts in mantra, need to come up with a better banter to push mega-billion dollar takes from working people.

        Oregon has NOT underfunded education and I am sick to death of the same old rant given the billions we shovel to education- well over 50% of every tax dollar goes to education, and K-12, gets the bulk of that, and just got and ADDITIONAL $1 BILLION from the 2015 OR Legislature. And see the numbers below showing how much we pay per child in school:

        According to National Education Association data for 2014-2015, Oregon’s current expenditures per ADM (Average Daily Membership) in public schools was
        $12,502. That compares to $12,040 for all 50 states and D.C.*

        $12,502 is double the $4,997Oregon spent in 1969-70, and some 30 percent more than we spent in 1979-80, in constant dollars.
        * source: docs/NEA_Rankings_And_Estimates-2015-03-11a.pdf

        Table J on page 86 of the printed document (page 114 of the pdf)

  • barttels


  • HBguy

    How will we invest more in K-12 education, higher education and other “critical infrastructure” when we’re facing a $1.35 Billion dollar shortfall in current service level?
    The numbers need to add up here for me. So far there is one solution to your plan to invest more in education and infrastructure. And that’s M97. Unless you can tell me where you’re going to get the money to increase spending in education and infrastructure. I beg of you. Give me an idea of what you’d propose. I don’t want to vote for M97.

    • David Clark

      HBguy—-“I beg of you. Give me an idea of what you’d propose.”
      ZERO out departments of Ecology, energy, and all other agencies that promote Al Gore’s climate scam. Then END ALL subsidies PERIOD. (If it needs a subsidy, it is not worth doing.)
      Unleash job creation by making low cost land available for industry. Cut our cost of housing by making land available for homes (that is REAL HOMES, not high density crap.)
      Make it a crime to deceive elected officials to effect legislation. (that will reduce government waste and bad regulations. It will get rid of all climate regulations as the proponents would not be able to falsely claim we have a climate problem. )

      • HBguy

        “Getting rid of waste” is a meaningless political trope.
        Lets take one of your suggestions, the dept of energy.
        While I couldn’t find the most recent budget presentation for that department, here’s their power point to the Legislature from the 2013-2015 budget.
        It shows that the dept. takes half a million in general funding and 3.4 million in lottery funds. The rest of it’s funding is from fees, or services or the feds.
        Here are some of the services it provides.
        Cleanup for Hanford
        Emergency preparedness for oil shortages and spills and for transportation of radioactive materials
        Eneregy audits for schools so they can reduce their costs
        Expertise for energy facility siting.
        And many others which perhaps we can do without but that are largely financed by fees.
        Maybe you can take a look at the Dept. of Environmental Quality (I assume that’s what you mean when you say the Dept of Ecology?), and let me know which of their services you’d like to eliminate and how much it would save.
        Here’s a list of some of their services, you can start here.

        • David Clark

          HBguy—-“It shows that the dept. takes half a million in general funding and 3.4 million in lottery funds.
          ME—-That’s 4 million that could go to schools.

          HBguy—-“The rest of it’s funding is from fees, or services or the feds.
          ME—-Are you trying to say the fees are not a tax? Are they voluntary? Are they ONLY if someone asks for a service (I suspect they stick their bureaucratic butts in someone’s business and charges then for the privilege of getting permission.)

          HBguy—-“Cleanup for Hanford
          ME—-Why are we paying to clean up a WWII MILITARY operation in another state?

          HBguy—-“Eneregy audits for schools so they can reduce their costs
          ME—-I’ll bet the private sector can do it cheaper and better.

          HBguy—-“Expertise for energy facility siting.
          ME—- Are yo seriously saying some bureaucrat, with greenie idiots at his side, knows more about energy siting than PGE & PP&L?

          HBguy—-“And many others which perhaps we can do without but that are largely financed by fees.
          ME—- You make is sound as if someone voluntarily walks in the door and asks for a service. I’ll bet the reality is that one must pay them thousands or millions for permission to do something that they have a right to do. (Like Portland charging $50,000 in “fees” to build a house that you have a right to build.)

          HBguy—-“let me know which of their services you’d like to eliminate and how much it would save.”
          ME–Let us know which of these are essential services:
          Greenhouse gas (which do not cause significant warming but regulations cost us BILLIONS)?
          Leaking underground fuel tanks, which cost us BILLIONS to replace a lot of tanks most of which did not leak and put many businesses out of business?
          Noise pollution – duplicates city rules;
          Packaging waste? (We are NOT running out of land fill space. Recycling is a waste of money beyond metals, glass and sometimes paper)
          Heat smart?
          Food Rescue?????

          • HBguy

            How much will you save by eliminating the energy dept?
            Again…lots of political memes. Little budget data. I’m not opposed to budget cuts or reducing governments footprint. But saying cut waste is not convincing.
            We need more fiscal moderates and conservatives who are modern on social issues who can win elections.

          • David Clark

            HBguy—“How much will you save by eliminating the energy dept?”
            ME — Any saving is a good start. More important is the waste created by government meddling.
            As to modern on social issues – YES!! and the good news is that many Republicans are coming around. Bad news is that many Republicans also vote for government waste.

          • HBguy

            If the GOP could gather the cost data to present to voters showing how the state could cover the budget shortfall, then perhaps M97 wouldn’t have 60% support right now.
            Until they do, I think most voters don’t believe the pols in Salem can cover that shortfall without severly harming schools and public safety.
            I don’t believe it myself right now. And I get that is largely the fact that Dem’s want to promote and hire all their political friends whenever possible to manage departments and agencies and they are simply not up to it.
            Nonethless, I’m not willing to gamble with a kids education just to prove a point.
            We want solutions. Not orthodox arguments. I plan on voting for qualified Independents and Republicans, in that order, whenever i can.

        • David Clark

          Don’t miss this example of the finest government money can buy. Especially when idiots are in charge:

          “More than a quarter of the large business energy tax credits issued by the Oregon Department of Energy over eight years “seemed improper, violated statutes or rules, or exhibited suspicious activity,” a first-ever independent audit of the controversial program found.”

  • Connie Kosuda

    farsical ‘analysis’ of the bill which taxes businesses making more than 25 mill per year / a whopping 2.5% increase .

    very modest bill, well reasoned, long overdue, except for the boyz who don’t like to pay taxes / jeepers creepers, ya’ll.

    • Gardenhomeboy

      If you cared to listen to non-partisan experts such as economists like Fred Thompson of Willamette University, you would know that the “modest, well reasoned” 2.5 % gross receipts tax is actually the equivalent of a 50 PERCENT Corporate Income Tax. That is 5 times higher than the next highest state. It is a stupid policy and a funding shortfall doesn’t justify stupid policy. If these businesses were not MAJOR parts of our economy, it wouldn’t raise 3 billion dollars a year. IT will impact employees and consumers more than shareholders. Be real, Connie.

  • oregongrown

    Measure 97 is the PERS Tax. Everyone whose been paying attention knows that these BILLIONS will go right into the pockets of those on government payrolls AND will grow government by billions more, estimated at 30,000 more on government payrolls.

    And the rest of us will pay more for every single thing we buy.

    All of this brought to us by the gluttonous government unions. We have more expensive government than we can pay for now. PERS is unfunded by $22 BILLION and that amount is growing every day.

    Vote NO on government greed.
    Vote NO on Measure 97, the PERS Tax.

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