An all-out, big-money ballot war is being waged in Oregon as a local effort to tax corporations has seen record levels of outside opposition spending while drawing the support of national progressive leaders Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Measure 97 would impose a gross receipts tax on corporations whose annual sales in Oregon exceed $25 million, “generating an estimated $3 billion a year for public education and other state services,” according to The Oregonian.
Predictably, the initiative, put on the ballot by several public employee unions under the umbrella of Our Oregon, has won the ire of the state’s powerful technology sector and other retail behemoths, but recent reporting has revealed that a “major influx of campaign contributions opposing Measure 97 has made the measure the costliest in Oregon elections history.”
“We’ve never seen this kind of out-of-state spending before,” lobbyist Len Bergstein, who first managed a statewide campaign in 1974, told the Willamette Week.
“We’ve always been kind of a cheap test market for things you might want to take to other states,” Bergstein explained. “But with the locus of power shifting away from the federal level, people can rationalize heavy spending at the state level.”
Progressives hope the measure is something that will be replicated elsewhere.
- A Killer Dispatched From California is Strangling Oregon Unions and Measure 97
Nigel Jaquiss (Willamette Week)
- Oregon Locals Take On Corporate Power With ‘Tax Corporations’ Measure 97
Dave Johnson (People’s Action Blog)
- Undermining Democracy, Corporations Pouring Millions into Local Ballot Fights
Lauren McCauley (Common Dreams)
In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, Warren held up Measure 97 as an example of how citizens can pressure Congress, which is currently planning a massive new corporate tax break.
“State ballot initiatives are sending a giant message to Congress that the American people want to see change,” Warren said, adding that Measure 97 “is a good step to help make the system fairer.”
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