Get Your Facts Straight, Oregonian Editorial Board

Chuck Sheketoff

The Oregonian editorial board must not be reading the paper’s news pages.

Friday’s editorial attacks Measures 66 and 67 without offering a single fact, or at least any that stand up to scrutiny.

The relevant portions read:

Two years ago, voters approved the tax increases offered through ballot measures 66 and 67. You'll recall that much of the argument used to sell those taxes was that someone else -- "the rich" in this case -- would end up paying the bills.

Now it's useful to review what happened. Income taxes rose for many families, since much of Oregon's business tax bill is really paid by individuals taxpayers operating small businesses. Taxes rose on high-volume, low-profit businesses. The budgetary "deficit" -- really the gap between state government spending plans and its actual income -- rose from about $2 billion to more than $3 billion as the economy continued to decline. Some businesses simply away by failing. Others moved out of Oregon.

Let me take it from the top.

1) The measures were approved in late January 2010, just a little over a year ago, not “two years ago.”

2) Small businesses either saw no tax increase or saw a total increase of no more than $150. That’s because under Measure 67 (PDF) sole proprietorships saw no tax increase and partnerships, LLPs, LLCs and S-corps saw their corporate income tax increase from either zero or $10 to a flat $150 no matter how big or profitable.

Surely that small tax increase not caused any business to fail. And as far as I can recall, The Oregonian has reported no such failure.

3) Under Measure 66 (PDF), families — including those that receive pass through income from their businesses — have had no tax increase unless they are among the fortunate few who make $250,000 or more in taxable income a year.

4). The state economists have made it clear that the current revenue shortfall is due to the fact that the Great Recession was deeper and longer than they had assumed in their earlier forecasts. They’ve also made it clear that we’d be worse off but for the measures.

5) There’s been no report of a business moving out of Oregon because of the measures — at least none that has held up to scrutiny. The Oregonian’s news division certainly hasn’t dug up proof of a business that fled because of taxes, while they have reported about lots of expansions and new Oregon businesses.

If it matters to Oregonians, consider the facts that matter, and be wary of what’s alleged in The Oregonian’s editorials.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

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      True. But I bet despite the claim that there's a firewall between the news and editorial departments (and allegedly advertising) my bet is PolitiFact doesn't have the chutzpah. I'd love to be proved wrong.

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        More likely, they'd use their 'soft' definitions on this one. "They didn't say DID, they said LIKELY, so we'll give it a Mostly True"

        I can't count the number of times they've stretched for conservative issues, but slapped liberals for pedantic points. (The recent brouhaha with Rachel Maddow, anyone?)

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    The M66/67 opponents have been crying about jobs and businesses moving out of state for tax reasons since it went on the ballot. In all that time they have not been able to produce one legitimate example. Sure companies have left, but in each case it was either stated explicitly or was obvious that the reasons for the move had not basis in taxes.

    Now many will claim that some wealthy individual moved out of state for tax purposes and in some cases took a personal business with them. Of course that process has been going on for decades because of the Oregon/Washington tax structures, but I still haven't even seen one of those recent cases documented.

    In the meantime, we have documented dozens of business moving into Oregon, higher job growth in Oregon than surrounding states, and much business expansion in Oregon. Whoever wrote that editorial should be embarrassed by their sloppy writing.

    And yes they do sound like members of the Tea Party.

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    The editorial board at the O is on a reactionary rampage. Whether you voted for the ballot measures or David Wu that paper seems intent on subverting your choice with disinformation. What can you do though they're the paper?

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    I think in point #1 they are making reference to the fact that the tax increases were retroactive to Jan 2009 and that the tax increases have been in effect for 2 years.

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      Or just research the topic within their own archives:

      "Oregon ranks sixth best in the nation as a place for business and careers, according to Forbes Magazine, which raised the state's rank despite new taxes from ballot measures 66 and 67."

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    It'd be a great project for a journalism school/review to document the extent to which editorials rest their case on 'facts' that are contradicted within their papers' own pages. The O is following in the footsteps of such laughing stocks as the Wall St. Journal editorial board.

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    Unemployment Rates for States 42 OREGON 10.2 42 SOUTH CAROLINA 10.2 46 KENTUCKY 10.4 46 MICHIGAN 10.4 48 RHODE ISLAND 11.2 49 FLORIDA 11.5 50 CALIFORNIA 12.2 51 NEVADA 13.6

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