The High Costs of Low Taxes

Ballot Measure 59, an initiative pushed by professional anti-tax crusader Bill Sizemore, would cost Oregon more than a billion dollars in revenue over two years

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Ballot Measure 59, an initiative pushed by professional anti-tax crusader Bill Sizemore, would cost Oregon more than a billion dollars in revenue over two years and benefit only the most affluent 25% of the state's nearly two million taxpayers.


That's according to a report on the anticipated costs of all this year's ballot measures put out yesterday by the Secretary of State's office.

Measure 59 would allow Oregonians to deduct 100% of their federal income tax payments from their state income tax. But Oregon taxpayers already can deduct up to $5,600 of what they owe the IRS, and only 500,000 of the state's 1.8 million taxpayers pay more than that in federal taxes.

If approved, Measure 59 "would reduce expected general fund resources by $1.3 billion (nearly 9%) in the next two-year budget period," the report says. "For the 2011-2013 period, the projected revenue reduction of $2.4 billion will be nearly 14% of expected general fund resources."

The report also notes that "over a six-year period, the measure would reduce bond capacity by $130 million per year, or 21%, to pay for future infrastructure construction needs of the state," such as prisons and college facilities.

Further, state budget cuts could also reduce federal funding. "For example, if the Legislature chooses to reduce services to children, the elderly or disabled (including medical), for every one dollar of state funds reduced, two dollars of federal matching funds would also be cut."

Two initiatives similar to Measure 59 have previously been rejected by Oregonians, in 2000 and 2006.

In other tax-related news, the conservative Tax Foundation released a report this week showing that Oregon isn't the "tax hell" that some on the right make it out to be.

According to the foundation's rankings, Oregon is just about smack-dab in the middle of the states in terms of the percentage of their income the state's residents pay in state and federal taxes. With a state-local tax burden of 9.4%, Oregon stands in 26th place and is just below the US average of 9.7%.

New Jersey holds the questionable distinction of being Number One at 11.8%, followed by New York (11.7%) and Connecticut (11.1%). California comes in sixth at 10.5% and Washington is 35th at 8.9%.

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