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A new ballot measure has been launched under the name “A Better Oregon,” with a mission to fund schools and public services through increased taxes on large, out-of-state businesses.


“Working families do their part to support our communities every year, but in Oregon, large- and out-of-state corporations don’t,” said Laura Illig, chief petitioner and parent leader. “A Better Oregon will make big corporations pay their fair share so we can have the schools and services our families deserve.”

The initiative was launched across the state at rallies Oct. 3, where volunteers worked to collect petition signatures. In order to be placed on the November 2016 ballot, the initiative needs 88,184 signatures.

To date, just more than 2,500 signatures have been gathered.

Melanni Rosales, Our Oregon communications director, said volunteers will continue collecting signatures until their goal is reached in time for the July 8, 2016, deadline for submissions to the Secretary of State.

Although businesses in Oregon account for $6.147 billion in tax revenue to the state, which at a rate of 5.7 percent is the lowest tax burden in the U.S. To compare, the individual income tax in Oregon is 9.9 percent, while the corporate income tax is 7.6 percent.

“Oregon has the lowest corporate taxes in the country, mainly because most corporations pay only low minimum taxes and those minimums are set at a very low threshold,” according to A Better Oregon.

The petition circulating would increase the corporate minimum tax for businesses with sales more than $25 million a year. That increase is proposed at 2.5 percent, which according to the Legislative Revenue Office, would bring in an additional $5.3 billion in the 2017 to 2019 budget years.

This additional funding could be used to pay for more teachers, lowering class sizes.

“Every parent in the state of Oregon has seen their (children’s) class size grow and their school year shrink,” said Collin Robinson, president of Oregon Parent Teachers Association. “In my child’s class, I’ve seen the number of students increase, while programs like art, music and physical education decrease. This measure is about the kind of future we’re creating for our kids. We’re going to make Oregon a better place to raise a family, and we’ll do it by working together.”

The additional revenue could also be allocated for assistance in health care and senior services.

So far, the initiative has garnered support from varying organizations and individuals, including education associations from around the state, local businesses and state representatives. Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, is among the eight to lend his name to the cause.

“After two terms in the Legislature, I’ve seen the impact scant funding has had on our schools and that many communities are under-served. I believe that we have to do something to make Oregon better,” Gorsek said. “That’s what this ballot measure does — it makes vital investments in schools and other services.”

He added this measure will hold out-of-state corporations accountable, and allow for the hiring of teachers, thereby reducing class sizes in Oregon schools.

“We have a great deal of need in Oregon (and in East Multnomah County) as the result of our lopsided funding that privileges big corporations over small business — this measure has the potential to meet those needs while evening the playing field,” Gorsek said. “I believe that implementation would be simple and as a result effective. It holds the largest corporations in the world to a fair minimum tax, and it builds on our current collection infrastructure.”

For more information about the measure, visit ABetterOregon.org.


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