Oregonians raise $600,000 for tax referendum drive

SALEM — More than $600,000 was been contributed by Oregonians toward the tax referendum campaign, according to a contributions and expenditures report filed with the Secretary of State’s office.

The report shows the financial activity for the chief petitioners, who gathered enough signatures for a Feb. 3 referendum on the $800 million, three-year income tax surcharge enacted by the 2003 Legislature.

They spent $575,000, leaving a balance of $34,000.

The report shows that nearly 1,500 donors each gave $50 or less toward the campaign to get the anti-tax referendum on the ballot.

Russ Walker, director of Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy and chief petitioner, called the effort a grassroots support.

“The volume of (small contributions) tells us that Oregonians are willing to give whatever they can, no matter how small, to help this cause.”

Last Wednesday, campaign leaders filed petitions listing 120,000 signatures, more than enough to qualify.

With no end to the record legislative session in sight, Democrats and Republicans garnered enough votes to win passage in August for a $11.6 billion general fund budget in 2003-05.

To balance the proposed budget, the majority approved an $800 million tax increase — $545 million for 2003-2005 and another $157 million for 2005-2007, $98 million for 2007-2009 if needed.

The Legislative Revenue Office estimates the tax surcharge would cost the average Oregon household $38 a year, or cost a couple $40 to $50 if they file a joint return.

As soon as the budget and tax increase were adopted, anti-tax conservatives vowed to repeal the measures.

“This will be the easiest campaign I’ve worked on,” said Walker at the time, promising that voters across Oregon would reject the tax increase.