Just say no to signing anti-tax-hike petition

The increase is not as large as opponents would have you think.

If you’re out and about this weekend, chances are you will be asked to sign a petition to overturn the Legislature’s tax-and-budget plan. For the sake of your fellow Oregonians, say, “Thanks, no,” and move on.

Granted, no one likes to pay taxes, and a temporary tax increase is a big part of the budget-balancing plan. But everyone in the state benefits when our children have a full school year; when courts can prosecute lawbreakers; when community colleges help people gain job skills; when poor and elderly people get medical care. State taxes make these and many other services possible.

From all the hoopla, you might think that your taxes are going to increase hundreds of dollars if you don’t sign a petition now. Not so.

For a family with the state’s median income of $40,916, state income taxes will rise $36 per year in the Legislature’s plan. Half of Oregon’s families will see less of an increase, or none; half will see more.

Some Oregonians will face additional hits. Homeowners will get less of a discount for paying their property taxes early. Some SUV owners will lose a generous depreciation allowance. Corporations will no longer be able to pay as little as $10 in state income tax.

But: Most Oregonians will pay less in total taxes for this year. That is because the federal tax cut more than offsets the modest state tax increase.

Still, people’s natural aversion to taxes probably will prompt many to sign the petition. If organizers can get 50,420 signatures by Nov. 25, they will force a referendum on the budget plan. It would go before voters on Feb. 3.

And if it’s overturned? State Republican Party Chairman Kevin Mannix, who started the petition drive, says that he has a plan to lower the cost of state government while still delivering services.

Well, we’ve seen this before – like last January, when some Republican legislators claimed to have a budget solution preferable to Measure 28, the income-tax surcharge. The ballot measure failed, but the lawmakers never did produce their secret plan.

The current referendum campaign is led by the innocuously named Citizens for a Sound Economy, which is backed by corporations that favor lower taxes and less regulation for business. They won’t have to pick up the pieces if Oregonians lose additional services and programs.

Legislators struggled for eight months to balance the state’s budget. Don’t undercut them in the moment it takes to sign your name. Just say, “Thanks – but no thanks.”