PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In November, voters will have to decide whether to implement Measure 97, a corporate tax on sales that’s being called the largest tax increase in Oregon history.
If the measures passes, it would levy a 2.5% tax on the gross sales receipts of businesses with more than $25 million in annual sales. The intention is for the money to fund health care, education and senior services.
Governor Kate Brown said she supports the measure, saying, “I have been fighting for years for adequate and stable revenue for our schools.” Brown wants to use that money to reduce class sizes and lengthen the school year.
Some critics believe there’s no guarantee for how legislators will spend that money.
Julie Parrish, the state representative for West Linn and Tualatin, said legislators aren’t bound to spend the money as intended. Parish says even if they did use the Measure 97 money on education, they could then take money from the general fund that was formerly used for education and spend it on other things.
The non-partisans members of the state’s legislative counsel also feels the constitution requires that the portion of those taxes that come from the sale of fuel must be funneled away to the transportation budget.
“We think that a portion of the Measure 97 funds revenues would have in fact been raised by taxes imposed on motor vehicle fuel sales and therefore would have to be spent for those highway purposes,” said Dexter Johnson with the legislative counsel.
The creators of the measure feel confident that the language of the measure is clear and strong enough that the legislators will use it as intended.
“The language specifically says it’s to provide additional revenue to education, health care and senior services,” said Otto Schell, Legislative Director for the Oregon PTA.