I am writing in opposition to Measure 97, the gross receipts tax. The measure, if passed, will tax corporations that have gross revenues over $25 million at a rate of 2.5 percent. The supporters of the measure would have you believe that this will only impact the corporate giants. They are wrong. Basic economic principles, and more importantly basic common sense, tell you that the costs associated with this additional expense will be passed along to the customer. That’s right — to you and I.
The supporters also want you to believe that the added revenue this thinly veiled sales tax puts in the state of Oregon’s coffers will be used to fund education, emergency and senior services. Do not be fooled. The measure does not say that it will go to any of these areas. It goes into the general fund and will be discretionary funds for the legislature.
Measure 97 proponents claim that it will add $6 billion per biennium to the state coffers. This is in addition to the existing $18 billion budget. Does it make sense to increase by one-third the funds available for the legislature to allocate as they see fit? I say no. If the state needs a 33.3 percent increase in revenue to remain viable, there isn’t an income issue, there is a spending issue.
The measure is yet another example of solving fiscal problems by piling more taxes (expenses) on the citizens and businesses of Oregon. If approved by voters, Measure 97 would have the heaviest impact on those who can least afford it. According to an Oregon Public Broadcasting article, “The Legislative Revenue Office has estimated that the measure would eventually cost Oregon households between $372 and $1,282 a year, depending on their income level. Most of that would be in higher prices, although some would represent lost wages.” The average estimated by the LRO is $600 per year per household.
Measure 97 will limit economic growth opportunities within Oregon. Why would a company that is looking to expand operations and add jobs to a region come to Oregon when its costs will be at least 2.5 percent higher (more, when you think of the supply chain and the numerous vendors along that chain) than locating in Washington or Idaho? They won’t. More critically, given the choice, what will keep existing corporations from leaving Oregon in favor of a more business friendly state?
No matter how frustrated you are with the political landscape of Oregon and our great nation, no matter how tired you are of picking between candidates that don’t reflect your own principles or ideals, please do not simply ignore your ballot. The fight against Measure 97 cannot be “someone else’s” issue. It is an issue for every Oregonian. Please do not be complacent. You must vote, and I strongly urge you to join me in voting “no” on Measure 97. It is bad policy, a bad idea, bad for business and bad for Oregon.
Jeff Bailey of Heppner is president and CEO of Bank of Eastern Oregon. He resides in Heppner.