The Silence Is…. Deafening and Sad

Chuck Sheketoff

Progressives throughout Oregon and especially in Multnomah County all say they want to maintain the Multnomah County income tax. Moderates from the business community have urged Multnomah County voters to reject the repeal, as well.

None of them, however, has said anything about whether a handful of large, profitable businesses should get a $68 million kicker tax cut next budget cycle. Their silence is deafening.

The bottom-line message against McIntire and Co. in Multnomah County is “schools need money.” Then why aren’t progressives bolstering that message by saying “corporations should give up their kicker so schools don’t lose the money?”

Why the timidity? Essentially one-half the kicker tax cuts comes out of the schools’ state appropriation. It is a no brainer.

And is business support for maintaining the local income tax just a PR ploy? If they truly believe the schools need the money, shouldn’t they walk the talk and offer up their kicker tax cut? Why are they so dead set on keeping their kicker tax cut?

It is election season and people throughout the state should be asking candidates to promise to exercise their voter-approved, constitutional authority to deny the corporate kicker and invest in Oregon, instead.

As long progressives and moderate business leaders continue to avoid taking on – or whittling away at – the silly kicker, Oregon will be stuck in Groundhog Day, with schools and other public services shortchanged and Oregon unprepared for the next economic downturn. That’s sad.

  • Justin Wells (unverified)

    It's interesting to note that the US's two largest economies - California and New York City - also have the highest tax rates. That's because they actually fund their infrastructure (from schools to roads), which makes business thrive.

    I've gotta say, tho, that wishing companies will voluntarily give up millions in tax rebates seems a bit wishful thinking

  • Javier O. Sanchez (unverified)

    "...It's interesting to note that the US's two largest economies - California and New York City - also have the highest tax rates. That's because they actually fund their infrastructure (from schools to roads), which makes business thrive."

    Well stated Justin and so damn true! It seems that Oregon is the last Alamo for the McIntyre/Sizemore camps that prioritize no tax and takings (what about "givings", you greedy bastards!) and forget thet economy thrives on sound investments and protocols for communities. Business doesn't have to set the agenda--the market will go where the people are.

    Take a look at New Hampshire (no taxes, shitty schools unless you are blinging, and some of the scariest talk radio I have ever heard; It was the scariest 3 hour ride this brown brother ever had in his life!)and Arizona (dry heat, sprawl and market incentive uber all makes for one of the biggest mistakes in 21st century modern america--with exception of Flagstaff and the big hole) and we have a Blade Runner apocalyptic recipe that scares the shit out of me! HELP! Pass some damn taxes PEEPS! Let's not make Oregon a Mad Max Thunderdome!

  • the prof (unverified)

    Chuck, I wonder whether progressives in Multnomah County really want to maintain the tax. This is going to be a very hard vote for me. yes, I'll probably hold my nose and vote "no" on the repeal, but actions of Linn and company over the past year have not left me particularly happy about the tax.

    I have heard nothing from Multnomah County that assures me that this tax will go away in two years. In fact, the responses during the campaign for the statewide tax ("Yes perhaps we'll rebate part of the tax maybe) don't reassure me.

    As the recent Oregonian story pointed out, the way this tax has been implemented provides fodder for the anti-tax advocates. I'm not happy that 20% or more of the taxpayers not paying. I experienced the same sticker shock that many did, with few large companies using withholding.

    Look at the Multnomah County numbers on the most recent statewide tax measure, and I would not be so confident. My gut tells me that the tax is going to be repealed.

  • Jack Bogdanski (unverified)

    Not including mandatory withholding of this tax from wages was a major blunder by the Sisters of Hawthorne. They wanted to placate business, but this omission led to shock and rage on the part of the many individuals who wrote a check for taxes for the first time in their lives. You may not miss $30 a month too badly, but writing a check for $360 once a year really hurts.

    I predict that the tax will survive this repeal vote, but its inevitable renewal for 2006 and beyond will be defeated if put up for a vote, either before hand or by referendum.

    Me, I kind of like the tax, because it means that fiscally, Multnomah County has partially seceded from what overall is a very backward state in many ways.

  • (Show?)

    Right on, Jack. People keep calling it a 1.25% tax, when it's really a 15% tax on one month's income. A painful, painful hit - even for those of us who supported it.

  • Chuck Sheketoff (unverified)

    Fingers are being wrongly pointed at the County Commissioners, and misinformation is running rampant.

    Misinformation example: "the prof" writes "I have heard nothing from Multnomah County that assures me that this tax will go away in two years." By its very terms ( it ends December 31, 2005. Sorry the prof, you flunk.

    Folks are blaming the County Commissioners for the failure to have mandatory withholding and better compliance. That's misdirected. The Legislature (and that includes the Multnomah County delegation) should have passed the simple law that would have authorized and directed the state Department of Revenue to handle collections. It would have cost a small amount to do (updating computer systems/software, printing extra pages in the tax forms), but would have meant higher compliance.

    Don't celebrate the unpatriotic tax cheats while ignoring the bottom line issue none of the critics to my post have challenged: schools need money.

  • The Prof (unverified)


    I stand corrected; I assumed there was a provision for automatically extending the tax. There seems to be no such provision and it will expire after three years. That is good and should form the basis of the campaign to defeat the repeal.

    Can I get my grade reconsidered? ;-)

    I still question, though, your claim that all progressives "throughout Oregon" (not sure why they'd care) and "especially in Multnomah County" want to retain the tax.

    That is just not what I am hearing in my neck of the woods, a highly, highly liberal college campus. I could be wrong, but I think this is going to be a pitched battle. The polling I've heard about has this neck and neck, if not a bit behind.

    If every progressive in Multnomah County was in favor of retaining the tax, it wouldn't even be close.

  • (Show?)

    Our unions reps (Reynolds School District) have told us to prepare for at least 20 days cut from the 2004-2205 school year and significant lay offs for next year.The population my school serves does not have the option of sending their kids to private school and the parents don't have the resources to supplement our lack of materials. The real effect may come when these students have to compete with others to get into post secondary institutions. Whatever happened to the ideals of a civil contract for and towards our fellow citizens ? Our family resides in Happy Valley (Clackamas County) and I hope those of you who live in the area and believe in the idea of public education will support Mike Shauffler in the state house.

  • Derrico (unverified)
    <h2>Drop the tax.. I am all for school funding, but this tax really hurts funding in the long run. As someone else said writing a check when you never have before hurts. I am happy to pay, but for many this is a political awakening. Some people will be looking for voter registration cards this year for the first time, and don't assume that the Multnomah tax will be the only tax measure they vote on.</h2>

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