Teachers' union withdraws corporate sales tax petition
SALEM – A technical error has prompted the Oregon Education Association to withdraw a petition for a ballot measure to enact a less than 1 percent sales tax on corporations with annual sales of more than $5 million.
The withdrawal Friday, Aug. 4, is meant to "ensure this measure is best suited to improve conditions for Oregon students," said OEA President. C. John Larson. "We are taking the time to get this policy right and are still looking at all possible options to provide this much-needed investment in our schools."
Initiative Petition 27 created a tax framework for corporations with annual sales of more than or less than $5 million. However, corporations with sales of exactly $5 million would have had to pay nothing, due to an error in the initiative's language, Larson said.
OEA, the state's largest teachers' union plans to file paperwork for a new initiative after correcting the proposal's wording.
"We are not abandoning the concept," Larson said.
Petitioners had already collected more than 1,000 signatures at the time of withdrawal Friday, Aug. 4.
The OEA filed paperwork for the tax measure after it became unlikely that state lawmakers would raise new revenue for schools. The teachers' union also backed corporate sales tax Measure 97, which failed in the November 2016 election. Union leaders maintain that Oregon corporations fail to contribute their "fair share" to state tax revenue, but this year's proposed measure is significantly more modest than the 2016 proposal.
The proposal would levy a 0.95 percent gross receipts tax on corporations with annual sales greater than $5 million. The minimum tax on corporations with sales of less than $5 million would be unchanged. The initiative's sponsors want all of the revenue to go toward K-12 and higher education.
Another ballot measure proposal by the OEA – Initiative Petition 26 – is still in play. The initiative would eliminate the constitutional requirement to garner a three-fifths majority vote in both chambers of the Legislature to pass new taxes, when educational funding dips under than a certain threshold. The threshold is "a sum of money sufficient to ensure the state system of public education meets quality goals established by law."