Looking to 2016 ballot measures: Whopping tax hike proposed for Oregon; climate change measure planned for Washington

As we mentioned yesterday, the initiative process is alive and well in the Northwest. And groups eager to put their ideas before the voters are looking to 2016. 

The Columbian reports that the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy will propose today an initiative to combat climate change. According to the paper,

The statewide ballot measure would cap greenhouse gas emissions and put a price on carbon pollution, though many other details have not yet decided.

OneAmerica’s Rich Stolz says the idea is to curb pollution while also raising money for jobs, clean energy and minority and low-income communities that are disproportionately harmed by carbon pollution. He says racial and social equity would be central to the measure.

The news story also calls the carbon tax Initiative 732 a “competing measure” that would also appear on the ballot in 2016. I-732 is an initiative to the legislature that is apparently close to gathering the signatures required to qualify. If lawmakers don’t act on the measure next year, it would then be before the voters in November 2016.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, voters may get a say on the largest tax increase in state history, according to the Oregonian. 

Remember the big fight over the Measure 66 and 67 tax increases on corporations and the well-off that voters approved in 2010?

Well, that’s nothing compared to the audacious new union-backed plan to tax corporations to the tune of $2.6 billion a year — more than seven times what 66 and 67 sought to collect.

Proponents say they’re proposing the biggest tax hike in Oregon history because they believe the state is so desperately short of money for schools and other public services. But opponents are calling it a hidden sales tax that threatens the economy.

The tax increase is being promoted by Our Oregon. The Oregonian reports that the taxes would amount to a 27 percent increase in the 2017-2019 state general fund. 

“This is a $5 billion investment in Oregon’s economy” that will mostly come out of the profits of large out-of-state corporations, argued Ben Unger, executive director of  Our Oregon.

“It really would make the big corporations pay,” said Unger, point man for the effort to put the measure on the 2016 ballot.

We suggest reading the story in its entirety. The arguments will be familiar to those who follow tax policy in Washington. The paper quotes one of the leading experts on business tax policy.

Douglas Lindholm, president of the Council On State Taxation, which represents some 600 multi-state companies, said the rate in the Oregon measure would be enough to tip some companies into the red – encouraging them to avoid doing business in the state or to find some way to raise their prices.

And remember the November 2016 election is only 13 months away. 

For those of you with a taste for the ironic, Crosscut reports on a Seattle initiative (on the ballot next month) to limit money in politics, finding that it takes a lot of cash to get big money out of local politics