Ballot Measures 66 and 67: Are They Truly Beneficial For All?

On January 26th, Oregonians will be able to vote during a special election which focuses on ballot measures 66 and 67. The measures weigh on tax increases for individuals and businesses with an income above $250,000 (above $125,000 for single filers) to support for higher education, health care, and other services. According to BallotPedia, the ballot measures broken down are summarized as such:



Measure 66: Raises tax on household income at and above $250,000 (and $125,000 for individual filers). Reduces income taxes on unemployment
   * Yes vote: “Yes” vote raises tax on incomes above $250,000 for households, $125,000 for individual filers. Tax rate increases 1.8 percentage points on amount of taxable income between $250,000 and $500,000, 2 percentage points on amount above $500,000 for households. For individual filers, the rate increases begin at $125,000 and $250,000 respectively. Eliminates income taxes on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009. Raises estimated $472 million to provide funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services.
   * No vote: “No” vote rejects tax changes on incomes at and above $250,000 for households, $125,000 for individual filers. Rejects tax exemption for first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009. Leaves amount currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services underfunded by estimated $472 million.

Measure 67: Raises $10 corporate minimum tax, business minimum tax, corporate profits tax. Provides currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services.
   * Yes vote: “Yes” vote raises $10 corporate minimum tax, establishes $150 minimum tax for most businesses or minimum tax of approximately 0.1% of total Oregon revenues for some corporations with over $500,000 in Oregon revenues. Raises tax rate some corporations pay on profits by 1.3 percentage points. Increases certain business filing fees. Raises estimated $255 million to provide funds currently budgeted for education, health care, public safety, other services.
   * No vote: “No” vote retains $10 corporate minimum income tax, rejects $150 minimum tax, rejects raising corporate profits tax, other changes. Leaves amount currently budget for education, health care, public safety, other services underfunded by estimated $255 million.

Since September of 2009, I have been proactive in registering students at the University of Oregon to vote for this special election. I have gone to classes and given speeches, hassled students on their way to class, and even bombarded people in their homes to ensure they were registered. Last week, I was fortunate enough to even go to classrooms with the Secretary of State Kate Brown. And just recently, I had attended a training which further informed me on these measures so that I can discuss them to others in a non-partisan manner. However, I feel that I am on the fence when it comes to voting on these measures.

I am a strong advocate for the funding of higher education. I believe that it is absolutely ridiculous that students are forced to go through extreme measures to attain funding for something that is necessary, required, and expected. In order to attain any type of decent paying job, some students rack up unreasonable amounts of debt for proper education. I do believe that more grants and federal support need to be considered and given to those in need. However, I believe that it is wrong to tax only a certain subset of people in order to do so.

This Robin Hood type tactic is a bit discriminatory. Taking for the rich to give to the poor ultimately does NOT benefit everyone. For instance, suppose an individual has a salary of $150,000. This ONE person also has two children in college. Though they do make more money than most others, every dollar is used for the family’s necessities. Why should they have to pay more money in taxes simply because they have more? A higher income does not ultimately make a person wealthy nor prove that they can afford this tax increase. By forcing individuals in this situation to pay more money may place them in a financial disadvantage that would not have been experienced otherwise.

In regards to measure 67, it is absurd that the corporate minimum has not increased since 1931. However, I think it is a bit of a jump to go from the current $10 to the proposed $150. Is there no gray area? I’m curious as to where it is necessary to increase it to such an amount. If the proposed corporate minimum was maybe around $50, I think this measure would receive more support. People, for the most part, do not mind paying more taxes for a better cause when it is within reason.

So my position on these measures leaves to wish there was a “maybe” option. I would like to vote “Yes”; however, I do not want to put others in a detrimental situation. It comes down to the decision of how much one is willing to sacrifice for an education. The fact that education and health care are surrounded by these obstacles blows my mind. It is wrong that the public is left to decide which is the lesser of two evils with matters that should be properly funded to begin with.

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