While Washington lawmakers cogitate over how to close a $2.6 billion budget gap, our neighbors to the south are deciding whether to go along with the Oregon Legislature’s decision last year to boost income taxes to fill a $733 million hole.
Oregonians, voting by mail over the last couple of weeks, get final say on two referenda. One raises the personal income tax rate for the richest taxpayers and the other would boost the state’s minimum corporate inc0me tax, now $10. Ballots must be received by elections offices by Tuesday in order to count.
Polls showed a fair degree of support for both, despite heavy unemployment and slow recovery of the economy. Governing Magazine noted that the ballot-box test is being watched as one indicator of public attitudes about government and taxes.
In Washington, lawmakers closed a $9 billion budget gap last year without general new revenue, but Governor Gregoire and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate say they will need new taxes this year. In recent years, Washington voters approved transportation and estate taxes, while cutting car tabs, limiting property taxes and making it harder to raise taxes in Olympia. Last November, voters thumped Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033, which offered limits on general fund revenue for state, county and city budgets, with excess taxes earmarked for property tax relief.