Initiatives would hike taxes on the ‘1 percent’

2011-12-15T07:15:00Z Initiatives would hike taxes on the ‘1 percent’By Hasso Hering, Albany Democrat-Herald Albany Democrat Herald
December 15, 2011 7:15 am  • 

Our Oregon, a group aligned with public employee unions, has filed 12 proposed ballot initiatives to increase taxes on the rich, especially the top 1 percent, and change the kicker law.

Patrick Green, executive director of the Portland-based organization, filed the measures with the secretary of state’s office last week.

Scott Moore, communications director for Our Oregon, gave the Democrat-Herald this explanation:

“Our schools, senior care, and basic services are all in crisis. Classrooms are overcrowded, struggling families have had emergency services slashed, and our senior services are threatened. These initiatives are all designed to begin the conversation about how to fix the funding crisis caused by the Wall Street meltdown.”

Moore added: “We’re starting this process in the hope that labor groups, business leaders, elected officials and advocacy groups can come together to find a way to protect Oregon’s priorities.”

If the initiatives make the ballot, they will be voted on in the election that ends Nov. 6, 2012.

The measures would, among other things:

• Amend the constitution to guarantee the right of public employees to make payroll deductions for unions and other groups.

• Raise the top state income tax rate from 9.9 percent to 13.6 percent on the top 1 percent of all taxpayers.

• Variously change the kicker tax rebate law. One proposal would apply any surplus of corporate or excise tax revenue to education rather than being rebated. Another would return personal income tax surpluses except to the 1 percent with the highest incomes.

• Put new limits on tax deductions including the one for home mortgages.

• Raise the corporate excise tax rate from 7.6 percent to 10 percent on income of $10 million or more.

Our Oregon says it was instrumental in bringing together the coalition that passed Measures 66 and 67,  the tax increases proposed by the legislature and ratified by the voters in January 2010.

Asked for comment, Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, who has proposed a different kind of kicker law reform, said, “It appears the public employee unions are serious about eliminating the kicker, raising taxes on the wealthy, and imbedding their political actions dues checkoffs in the constitution.”

He added, “The irony of raising taxes on corporations is that the direct effect is to lower wages ... One would think unions would consider this effect.”

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