Gov. Brown says ‘yes’ to proposed corporate tax

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Gov. Kate Brown talks with members of the media to preview legislation for the upcoming session at the Capitol Building, in Salem, Ore., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Kate Brown is putting her support behind a proposed corporate tax described as the “biggest tax change” in Oregon history.

In a press release Thursday, Gov. Brown endorsed the Business Tax Increase Initiative known as measure 97.

“I support Measure 97 because there is a basic unfairness in our tax system that makes working families pay an increasing share for state and local services,” Gov Brown wrote. “By some measures, Oregon is among the lowest in corporate taxes, and Oregonians expect everyone to pay their fair share.”

The measure, which will appear on the November ballot, would levy a 2.5% tax on businesses’ gross sales over $25 million. It would raise an estimated $3 billion in additional annual state revenue from the largest 1,000 companies in Oregon.

Proponents of the corporate tax initiative tout it as a way to fund vital services in Oregon. The Legislature could spend the proposal’s additional revenue however it wants, although it earmarks the money to education, health care and senior services.

Brown said she’ll “make sure” the spending will be spent as voters expect.

But the Portland Business Alliance said Thursday’s statement contradicted a move she made in recent weeks to issue an implementation plan that would divert the money to other uses. The organization said the “statements appear to be in conflict.”

“We are deeply disappointed in Governor Brown for deciding to endorse this costly and damaging measure. The state’s own economists have said that, if passed, Ballot Measure 97 will result in 38,000 fewer private-sector jobs. Additionally, the state economists have said this tax will cost Oregon families hundreds of dollars a year, as much of the impact will be passed through to consumers in the form of higher prices for groceries, insurance, gasoline, electricity, medicine and other necessities.” – Portland Business Alliance

Some groups and individuals are speaking out against the tax. Emily Powell said it would be “extremely damaging” to her family’s namesake business Powell’s Books.

An analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Revenue Office found ballot measure 97 could actually cost Oregonians more in the long run. The study determined the corporate tax would result in the loss of thousands of private sector jobs and increase the tax burden on Oregon families by $600 per capita per year.The Associated Press contributed to this report

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