By Steve Buckstein
The Oregon legislature just passed, and the Governor signed, a bill designed to generate some $550 million in new taxes on health care, hospitals, and health insurance premiums. Ostensibly, this money is needed to help balance the budget, even after strong revenue growth, and to help maintain the controversial Medicaid expansion.
According to an Oregonian editorial, when word got out that someone might refer these new taxes to the ballot, legislative leaders showed “how they’re willing to protect that new revenue at all cost—even hijacking the referendum process at the core of Oregon’s identity.”
“Worse, however, the bill tosses aside the usual process requiring impartial groups to describe the measure on the ballot and in the voter’s pamphlet. Instead, [they gave] all that power to a committee made up of four Democrats and two Republicans.”
They also moved the referendum vote up from November 2018 to a January special election that will cost taxpayers more than $3 million.
The petitioners have just 90 days to collect nearly 59,000 valid voter signatures to refer the most egregious of these new taxes to the ballot.
These allow insurance companies to pass on to many of us, their policyholders, a new 1.5 percent tax on health insurance premiums in the state, at a time when premiums are rising out of sight already.
If you want to vote on the new premium taxes, go to StopHealthCareTaxes.com, download, sign and return a Petition sheet today.
Steve Buckstein is Senior Policy Analyst and Founder of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.