What the Oregon restaurant and lodging lobby doesn’t want you (and its members) to know about Measure 97

Chuck Sheketoff

You wouldn’t know it from the industry’s campaign spending, but the odds are remote that Oregon restaurant and lodging facilities will be paying the Measure 97 tax if voters approve the measure this fall.

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Measure 97 would apply to a tiny sliver of the state’s more than 10,000 restaurant and lodging businesses. The measure would establish a 2.5 percent tax for C-corporations on their Oregon sales over $25 million. According to a state analysis, only about 1,000 corporations are likely to pay the tax; of those, only 14 are in the food and hospitality industry.

With only 14 out of more than 10,000 likely to pay the tax, it would take about 700 tries to randomly select an Oregon restaurant or lodging facility that might be subject to the tax. The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA) claims they have 3,000 members. While we don’t know if all of the 14 that would likely be taxed are ORLA members, we do know that at least 99.5 percent of all ORLA members would not be subject to the new tax.

Yet, the ORLA has come out against Measure 97, a proposal that would invest more in Oregon schools, health care and senior services. The restaurant and lodging lobbying group has already spent at least $20,000 on the opposition campaign and has asked its members to chip in more.

Like Oregonians generally, owners and employees of restaurant and lodging businesses in our state stand to gain from the investments that Measure 97 would make possible. Many have children who attend public schools and elderly parents who may need special care. Because the ORLA represents a low-wage industry, many of their workers might also benefit from more affordable health services.

Measure 97 was crafted to apply to large, and mainly out-of-state, corporations. Fewer than one-tenth of 1 percent of all Oregon restaurant and lodging establishments will pay the tax.

While it’s unlikely the ORLA will change its tune before the November election, one thing is certain: the vast majority of ORLA members will be unaffected by Measure 97.

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 www.ocpp.org.

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