Understanding Oregon’s Measure 30

Oregon voters soon will decide on Measure 30, a proposal to temporarily raise income taxes.

When the Oregon Legislature met in 2003, it was faced with a difficult problem — how do we pay for everything the state needs when we don’t have enough money?

It’s like if you want to buy a $15 CD and spend $5 on soda, but your allowance for the week is only $15. Do you ask your parents for more money? Or do you cut back on soda so you can get the CD?

The legislators’ solution was Measure 30.

What does Measure 30 do?

•The measure asks Oregonians to pay more income taxes for 2003, 2004 and 2005.

•It raises taxes on businesses.

•Elderly people would pay more taxes for medical expenses.

•Reduces the tax break people get for paying their property taxes early.

•It would keep in place an extra tax on cigarettes of 10-cents per pack.

•It ends a tax break for people who own sport utility vehicles, or SUVs.

Why does the state want the measure?

Officials say they will have to cut back many services if the measure does not pass because not enough money will be available. The services would include schools, law enforcement and health care.

What do these possible cuts mean to you?

•Public schools could lose $299 million. Classrooms could become more crowded, activities like sports or art classes could disappear and there could be fewer days in the school year.

•Oregon colleges and universities could lose money, making it more expensive for students to attend them.

•People on the Oregon Health Plan could lose their health-care coverage, meaning they would not be able to pay for a doctor if they are sick.

•State corrections could lose millions of dollars, meaning people could lose their jobs, and prisons and jails may not be able to hold as many criminals.

What happens if the measure passes?

Services most likely would continue working as they do now. For example, the length of the school year, size of classes and number of classes offered most likely would stay the same as they are this year. Taxes also would increase for many people, in some cases permanently.

Why are we voting on the measure?

Oregonians who didn’t like the Legislature’s tax plan gathered signatures from others who agreed with them. They were able to get enough signatures that the state had to ask all voters in Oregon whether they wanted the tax increase. Ballots for the vote are due Tuesday.

Who doesn’t like the measure and why?

A national group called Citizens for a Sound Economy is leading the fight against the measure.

Citizens for a Sound Economy says that Oregon’s taxes are too high, and some businesses are leaving the state because of it. They says that when businesses leave, there are even fewer jobs for Oregonians.

Others oppose the measure because they do not want more taxes, especially if they don’t have a job and can’t afford to pay more.

Some people also think the state already has enough money, but that it is spending its dollars on the wrong things.

Who likes this measure?

People who are worried about programs losing money are supporting the measure. This includes many teachers and parents.

Why does Oregon rely so much on income taxes?

In many other states, there are three different kinds of taxes — income, sales and property. Oregon does not have a state-wide sales tax, so it relies more on money from the income tax.

What will happen if Measure 30 fails?

It depends on who you ask.

Supporters say budgets will be cut and the services that the state government provides will be cut. That includes school budgets.

Opponents say lawmakers will find a way to continue important services by making cuts to less-important services.

Caitlin and Gillian Currie, students at Walker Middle School, helped edit this report.

Sarah Evans can be reached at (503) 399-6856.