At least one prominent Oregon Republican is going to vote for Measures 66 and 67: former Labor Commissioner Jack Roberts, who gave the tax measures his reluctant endorsement in an op-ed piece in The Oregonian Thursday.
It’s “misleading to label Measures 66 and 67 ‘job-killing tax increases,’” wrote Roberts, who was labor commissioner from 1995 to 2002 and now is executive director of the Lane Metro Partnership, an economic development agency.
Noting that the states, unlike the federal government, don’t have the option of printing more money to balance their budgets, he added: “While President Barack Obama was right when he said that raising federal taxes during a recession is the last thing you want to do, for states, raising taxes is not necessarily worse than cutting spending.
“I'm all for cutting wasteful spending, but unfortunately that isn't what we're talking about here. If Measures 66 and 67 are defeated, both state and local governments – including schools – will face a painful round of cuts in basic services. To pretend otherwise is to ignore the reality of the past 20 years.”
Nor will the personal income tax increase of Measure 66 and the corporate tax increase of Measure 67 be as brutal as opponents are making them out to be, Roberts wrote: “[T]ry as I might, I have been unable to construct even a hypothetical example of hardship or unfairness that truly shocks the conscience if these taxes pass.”
The best line in Roberts’s piece, though, was this one: “I've never understood the economic reasoning of those who wring their hands when a private business reduces its employment but clap their hands when government lays people off.”
Roberts understands a point that most conservatives just can’t seem to grasp: State employees spend money on things like homes, cars, clothes and food just like employees in the private sector do – and they spend most of it right here in Oregon.