Don’t kill the goose; no on 66 and 67

Deciding whether to vote for or against ballot measures can be frustrating and confusing, particularly after you’ve been subjected to the typical barrage of TV commercials and arguments for or against the issue in question.

That’s certainly been true in the case of Measures 66 and 67, which are waiting for your decision in the Jan. 26 statewide election via the ballot you should have received in the mail by now.

Measure 66 would raise personal income taxes for households with more than $250,000 in taxable income on joint returns, or individuals who make more than $125,000 in taxable income. Legislative analysts project that it would raise an estimated net of $472 million annually from personal income taxes.

Measure 67 would raise an estimated $255 million anually in corporate taxes and fees by boosting taxes on corporations that, according to a 1931 state law, are required to pay a minimum $10 in taxes. It would tax gross income €“ the amount companies take in before they pay their bills and their employees.

Proceeds from both measures would go to maintain funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety and other services.

Supporters argue that without the passage of these initiatives, the rich will continue to pay less than their share while the poor take it in the shorts, and schools and law enforcement continue to face funding shortfalls. You’ve likely seen the commercials stating that huge corporations are only paying $10 and that’s not enough.

They say that passing these measures protects those hit hardest by the recession, particularly by protecting services for those who are unemployed. Measure 66 also reduces income taxes for those who are on unemployment.

Tbey argue that 97.5 percent of Oregonians won’t pay a penny more under these measures, and that nine out of 10 businesses will pay $150 or less under these measures.

Many Oregon business leaders agree that the business taxes need to be raised. But Measures 66 and 67 replace that $10 tax with a multi-faceted tax system that hits business owners at multiple levels.What proponents fail to mention is that in smaller S-corporations, the owners are making up the difference through their own personal income and that if a larger C-corporation is only paying the minimum tax, then it likely is operating at a loss. Under this proposed system, companies pay whether they are profitable or not.

Opponents to these measures contend that their passage will further cripple Oregon’s economy by driving employers out of a state that is already regarded as unfriendly to business.

State Sen. Chris Teller of Bend, who is a certified public accountant, wrote in The Oregonian that the ballot titles for these measures “are grossly misleading and speculative about the possible affects of the measures if they are to pass or fail.”

We initially planned to go into more depth to flesh out the pros and cons of Measures 66 and 67, but a number of our readers have risen to the task, as is evident from today’s letters page.

Portland-area economists Eric Fruits and Randall Pozdena this week released a study, commissioned by the conservative but non-partisan Cascade Policy Institute, in which they determined that passage of these measures would result in a minimum of approximately 47,000 fewer jobs in the state over the next eight years. Many of the companies and taxpayers targeted by these measures, they predict, will simply leave Oregon €“ and with them will go their cash and the jobs they provide.

Among those most impacted if these measures are passed will be investors, whose money creates jobs. But those jobs won’t be here if they leave.

Yes, our schools and our public safety agencies could use more money. We do want them to be adequately funded. We don’t want to lose teachers.

But killing the goose that lays the golden egg is not the way to get that egg. Those of us who are suffering during the present economic times may resent the fact that others do not appear to be in the same pain we’re feeling. But lashing out emotionally, on the basis of partial truths, against those who appear to be in better shape than the rest of us is not a logical, nor wise, course of action.

Yes, we all should pay our fair share. But these measures are about chiseling more money out of people who are working hard, taking the initiative, and putting their own savings on the line to make a buck. Success should not be punished, not even in Oregon where too much of our legislation smacks of emotion and foolishness, not logical thinking and responsibility.

The more we look at Measures 66 and 67, the more they smack of the former, not the latter.

We believe the wise response to these measures is a resounding “no.”