Driving to Salem last week, a familiar sight loomed occasionally up from the farmland: between here and the state capitol building, I counted ten Stop Job Killing Taxes billboards. I started wondering about that catchy name. Job. Killing. Taxes. It really doesn't get any more succinct and terrible.
Economists with conservative think-tank the Cascade Policy Institute say the new taxes on corporations and Oregon's wealthiest two percent of citizens will cost the state about 70,000 jobs. As I've written about before, the taxes are up to a statewide vote this January as Measure 66 and 67.
But today economists at DC's Urban Institute released a report that rips the 70,000 jobs-killed argument to shreds. Read through the pdf here, but economists Kim Rueben and Rosanne Altshuler point out that the Cascade Policy Institute's estimates were based on some seriously flawed calculations. First of all, the "70,000 jobs lost" estimate doesn't account for the jobs that the state will lose if the taxes don't pass and the government has to slash its budget by $733 million... which would most likely mean firing scores of nurses, state troopers, in-home care workers and other service providers. Also on the list of things the conservative economists neglected to include? That the revenue from the taxes will bring in millions of dollars of federal matching funds.
I called Rueben to ask her estimate of the number of jobs the taxes would kill. "My best estimate is none," says Rueben, agreeing instead with the Legislative Revenue Office's study that the taxes will be good for the state's economy. Ouch.