Lawmakers push cell tax (among nation’s most expensive)

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon

The Oregon House Revenue Committee recently held a hearing on a massive new tax that Salem politicians want added to Oregonians’ phone bills.  The $68,520,000 a biennium tax is slated to fund the state’s new 9-8-8 suicide prevention hotline but, as State Representative E. Werner Reschke eloquently noted in his testimony before the committee, 44 other states have thus far funded their call centers without adding a new tax on consumers.

Core government services like these shouldn’t come with an extra tax on consumers. They should be funded like other emergency and public safety services — from general fund revenues.  That’s probably why only five other states have enacted new taxes to fund 9-8-8 service.  And not a single one of them has a tax as costly as the monthly $.50 per phone line that Oregon legislators want to enact.

The legislation, HB 2757, is sponsored by 25 Democratic legislators and it’s not surprising that the tax is also far more than the program actually requires. Representative Reschke noted in his submitted testimony that a tax of $.03, not $.50, should suffice to cover basic costs of the 9-8-8 hotline. Reschke is not advocating for such a tax, he was simply illustrating how excessive this proposed tax is.

We applaud Representative Reschke for standing up for Oregon consumers and exposing this shell game. Click here to watch his testimony beginning at just over 41 minutes into the hearing.


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