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Measure 59: "No Gain, Just Pain"

Bill Sizemore's Ballot Measure 59 would give the richest 1% of Oregonians an average tax break of over $15,000 a year while middle-income families would



Bill Sizemore's Ballot Measure 59 would give the richest 1% of Oregonians an average tax break of over $15,000 a year while middle-income families would get the impressive sum of - are you ready for it? - two bucks.

That's according to a study released this week by the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

Measure 59 would let Oregonians deduct the full amount of their federal income tax payments from their state income tax. Currently the deduction is capped at $5,000 - and about 75% of Oregon households fall under that limit.

The wealthiest 1% of Oregon households would get about half of the total tax break under Measure 59, according to the OCPP analysis, and fewer than one out of four taxpayers would get any tax benefit at all. The top 1% -- average annual incomes of over a million dollars - would get an average cut of $15,800, while middle-income households ($30,600 to $50,000 annual income) would get just $2.

The OCPP calculates that Measure 59 would cost the state between $1.1 billion and $2.4 billion each biennium, depending on how federal tax law changes. "Just the conservative $1.1 billion cost estimate is equivalent to the total funding that Oregon's public universities will receive from the state in the current biennium or to cutting the salaries of all Oregon K-12 public school teachers by 70%," the OCPP said.

"Measure 59 is a raw deal for Oregonians," said OCPP policy analyst Michael Leachman. "It's a scheme slanted heavily in favor of the state's wealthiest households. Most Oregonians get nothing but significant cuts to important public services."

Oregonians defeated a measure similar to 59 in 2000. Only three other states - Alabama, Louisiana and Iowa - presently allow 100% deduction of federal tax payments.

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