Will Oregon finally fix its broken tax system?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

A friend of mine once said that Oregon was in danger of becoming "Mississippi, but with better skiing." With underfunded schools and social services, and a "first-in, last-out" economy during every recession, Oregon has struggled to recruit big employers and retain fast-breaking startups.

In what has become an annual tradition,the pro-business Tax Foundation has ranked Oregon as having the 11th "best" (i.e. lowest) tax system from a pro-business perspective -- including the lowest corporate taxes in the country. And it's been that way for at least a decade.

Nonetheless, even with 39 states with higher taxes, Oregon's business community is squawking about Our Oregon's proposal to raise $2.6 billion for schools, health care, and senior services through a gross receipts tax that would only affect companies with sales over $25 million.

The good news: The proposed tax measure starts with 60% in a recent poll by DHM Research (paid for by an opponent.)

How strong is the poll? A spokesman for the Oregon Business Council told the Oregonian, "polls don't really matter at this point" -- which is just another form of phrase #1 in the loserspeak trifecta, as coined by Daily Kos Elections:

Loserspeak: Language and phrasing used by losers. Loserspeak tends to signify impending defeat. Examples of loserspeak include: "The only poll that matters is on Election Day;" "Our supporters don't care how much money we raise;" and "D.C. insiders are trying to handpick our opponent."

Even the Oregonian struggles to make the case, noting that California and New York have "scores of large international businesses that record handsome profits despite the amount of money they have to pay the state". While there's a lot more handwaving there about Wall Street and Hollywood, the fact remains that high taxes seem to have very little to do with business location decisions.

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