The Cascade Policy Institute Board of Directors has voted to support State Referendum 301 which seeks to refer certain taxes approved in House Bill 2391 to the November 6, 2018 General Election ballot (unless the date is changed to January 23rd by an Act of the legislature).
The Referendum primarily seeks to refer some $333 million in new taxes, in the form of a 1.5 percent tax on health insurance premiums and a new 0.7 percent tax on certain hospitals. The Referendum does not affect the rest of HB 2391 which specifies how the state collects money to pay for the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s version of Medicaid, through assessments and taxes on health care providers.
Signatures must be filed with the Secretary of State’s office no later than October 5, 2017. The petitioners request that all signatures be returned to them no later than October 1st.
Cascade Senior Policy Analyst and Founder Steve Buckstein has written in favor of the Referendum and now makes the following statements about why the Institute believes that Oregon voters should sign it:
• The Oregon legislature 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.
• Since the bill’s passage, it has become clear that that nearly half the Medicaid recipients checked in recent months no longer qualify for benefits. This alone eviscerates the supposed need for most or all of these new tax revenues.
• Referendum 301 only targets the most egregious of the taxes in HB 2391. It allows Oregon voters a say in whether or not they want to slap what in-effect is a sales tax on health care.
• 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.”
• The Oregonian editorial went on to say, “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. As of August 1st the Governor has not yet signed this “referendum hijacking” bill.
Petitions can be downloaded from StopHealthCareTaxes.com. They should be properly signed by registered Oregon voters and returned no later than October 1st to:
Stop Healthcare Taxes
29030 SW Town Center Loop E, Suite 202, #514
Wilsonville, OR 97070
Questions to the petitioners can be addressed to [email protected]
Cascade Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization. Its mission is to promote public policies that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon.