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Elections — Initiative Petition 28 would raise the minimum income tax on corporations with sales exceeding $25 million



Nearly 60 percent of Oregon voters say they support a proposed ballot measure to raise taxes on many businesses, although support for the measure drops slightly when presented with arguments against it, according to a new survey by a Portland research firm.

That suggests the campaigns for and against Initiative Petition 28 will be expensive and heated if it qualifies for the November 2016 general election ballot.

In a recent press release announcing the results of the survey, DHM Research said, “In corporation board rooms and labor union offices across the state, key decision-makers are reviewing survey results just like these. These institutions are preparing for a major fight, what could shape up as the biggest and most expensive ballot measure showdown in Oregon’s history.”

Adam Davis, a founding partner of the research firm, said the campaigns are likely to be divisive.

“The ballot measure campaign is a dark cloud on Oregon’s horizon,” he said. “Having studied Oregonians’ values and beliefs for almost four decades, I’m concerned that the amount of money spent on advertising, and the nature of that advertising, will just feed the negativity people have about government and politics. I’m afraid it will result in less broad-based participation in the system and further political polarization in our state at a time when we need everyone on deck and working together.”

The measure would raise the minimum income tax on corporations whose sales exceed $25 million and dedicate the revenue to education, healthcare and senior services. The Legislative Revenue Office estimates it would be the largest tax hike in modern state history, raising $2.6 billion a year, amounting to a 25 percent increase in the state’s budget.

Supporters must collect 88,184 signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the ballot. It has so far received around $15,000 in in-kind contributions from Our Oregon, a liberal advocacy organization largely supported by unions. The organization’s director, Ben Unger, is one of the chief sponsors.

When they read the ballot title, 59 percent of respondents indicated support, compared to 30 percent who opposed it and 11 percent who had no opinion.

When given a more detailed explanation of how the measure would work and general arguments for and against it, 54 percent said they supported it, 40 percent said they opposed it, and 6 percent had no opinion. After being given even more detailed arguments for and against the measure, the results did not change.

Some legislators and others are believed to be looking for an alternate measure that lawmakers could either approve or refer to the ballot during the 35-day session of the Legislature that begins in February. The survey shows voters are open to alternatives, including a version that exempts necessities like food, medicine and gasoline, or provides additional tax relief to households.

“Overhauling the corporate tax structure will have a major impact on Oregonians,” David said. “It is of critical importance they have access to the same data on which proponents and opponents are acting.”

The telephone survey of 500 likely voters was conducted between Nov. 12 and 16. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. An anonymous third party partnered on the survey, DHM Research said.

The poll can be read at http://portlandtribune.com/documents/artdocs/00003531035087.pdf.

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