Stop Healthcare Tax Petition makes ballot, breaks record!

Petition submission qualifies over 82,000 signatures with a record-setting 85.43% validity rate for January ballot

SALEM, OR. — Today, the Stop Healthcare Taxes Referendum 301 chief petitioners qualified 82,312 signatures with a record-setting 85.43% validity rate for the January 23rd, 2018 special election to let voters vote on healthcare sales taxes passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Kate Brown.

“In ninety-nine days, voters will get a chance to weigh in on whether or not the state should be allowed to charge a sales tax on the health insurance of hard-working citizens who pay full freight for their own insurance,” stated Representative Cedric Hayden (R-Cottage Grove), a dental practitioner serving low-income patients. “It is fundamentally wrong that pro-tax lawmakers and Governor Brown would be willing to cost shift the burden for Medicaid to those who are struggling to make insurance payments that cost more than their mortgage or rent payments.”

Under Oregon’s constitutional referendum laws, legislation passed without an emergency clause or bills that raise revenue can be challenged by gathering petition signatures. This year, the required number of signatures for submission was 58,789. The majority of the 84,367 petition signatures submitted for Referendum 301 were gathered via volunteer circulators.

“Now we’re shifting gears to what will be a David and Goliath campaign,” stated Representative Julie Parrish (R-Tualatin/West Linn). “Medicaid profiteer Phil Greenhill has publically stated that for-profit Medicaid CCO’s will spend a million dollars of our Medicaid tax money on a campaign to protect the status quo which has allowed hundreds of millions in Medicaid overpayments.”

Parrish said that while she expected to see pro-tax supporters pour in money to try to sway voters with a slick campaign, referendum backers would be sticking to a grassroots effort to reach voters boots on the ground. “Pro-tax supporters may have big campaign checkbooks but on January 23rd, they’re like everyone else…they only get one vote.”

Representative Sal Esquivel (R-Medford) said he believes the Democratic Party agenda is out of step with the values of every day Oregonians. “I think the successful results of this petition effort shows just what Oregonians really think about what kind of job politicians are doing, and they aren’t very happy with the bills coming out of Salem.” Esquivel specifically pointed to new laws like mandatory universal abortion coverage paid for with state tax dollars, and providing health insurance to non-US citizens while failing to fully-fund voter-approved measures for education and veterans.

Representative Hayden noted that whether voters support or oppose the referendum, Oregonians should be prepared for the sticker shock coming on their insurance bills in January. “Between the decision last week by the Department of Consumer and Business Services to raise silver plan rates on the Exchange by 7.1% or the fact that the federal government is likely to disapprove the reinsurance program, it’s clear we need systemic healthcare reform. We can’t just tax our way out of this mess.”

Petitioners are still in a legal challenge at the state Supreme Court over a ballot title that was drafted predominately by pro-tax Democratic legislators. In an effort to jerry-rig the election, lawmakers voted to give Democratic Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum final judicial review rather than the seven non-partisan justices. In a memorandum to the court in favor of the current title which excludes the word “tax”, Rosenblum is quoted as having said, “Voters are unlikely to reach any other conclusion and using the word “taxes” is not necessary.”

Parrish highlighted that AG Rosenblum in her 2016 re-election campaign received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from pro-tax supporters. “We just not surprised that a partisan attorney general would side in favor of her campaign funders. It’s just one more piece of evidence that this entire process has been rigged from top to bottom. We won’t let voters in Oregon be suppressed with a disinformation campaign run by those with a vested financial interest in the outcome of the election.”