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Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Oregon Passes Tax Boost on Wealthy, Corporations - WSJ.com
"PORTLAND, Ore.—Oregon voters approved two special tax measures Tuesday designed to close a $733 million state budget gap. With 80% of the expected vote tallied, the Associated Press reported "yes" voters for Measures 66 and 67 garnered about 54% of Oregon's mail-in ballots. Elections here are by mailed ballot only. Tuesday was the last day ballots could be cast. Measure 66 increases Oregon's personal-income-tax rate by two percentage points for households earning over $250,000 a year. Measure 67 calls for an increase in the state's minimum corporate income tax, currently $10 a year, and imposes a tax on gross revenues for corporations that do not report a profit. The Oregon Legislature approved both tax increases last year, however opponents of the measures—chiefly business groups—sponsored a referendum campaign to put them to a statewide vote. Voters in this heavily Democratic state supported the legislators. "Passage of these measures means we keep core services of education, health care and public safety that Oregon families, businesses, and communities count on," said Oregon House Speaker Dave Hunt, a Democrat who represents Clackamas County. Defeat, he said, would have forced the state to cut nearly a billion dollars more from such services. The twin ballot measures also served as a gauge of anti-business populism and highlighted a nationwide debate over whether to fix state budgets by targeting the affluent. But they also fueled resentment of "tax and spend" legislators, as well as public-employee unions whose members enjoy job security at a time when thousands here have lost jobs. "