News Oct 19, 2016 at 4:00 am

You’ve Got A Bunch of Important Decisions To Make, Portland. Here's Some Help.


Great endorsement, but need to make one small correction. Oregon ranks 49th for campaign financing, beating only Mississippi. The article mistakenly states Alabama instead of Mississippi. Alabama actually ranks 42nd, well ahead of Oregon.
Not liking the dishonest account of who you endorsed in the Mayor's race: "Unwilling to let Ted Wheeler or Jules Bailey waltz into the mayor’s office, a pack of local rabble-rousers and thinkers openly challenged these two longtime politicos—and the media outlets who listened (side-eye at the Oregonian) found the kind of spirited, smart debate that our democracy deserves. "

Correction: For Mayor, you endorsed woo-woo Hales protege Sarah Iannarone, who got a whopping 9% of the vote. Way to bury that endorsement in the litter box.
Upvote #2. Iannarone started and ended as a complete joke. Big whiff by the Mercury.
You should do a last minute piece about how Hales takes all the rap for shoveling the homeless around, but in sheer numbers the amount of people he's swept, as well as in the complete lack of sense or consistency in the handling of situations, Hales does not even compare to Comissioner Novick who controls ODOT.
Oh No! Jill Stein "panders to antivaxxers" by praising vaccines but wanting more accountability from the FDA. Clinton panders to Wall St, pharmaceutical companies, fossil fuel companies, promotes fracking, has called for an overthrow of the Syrian government and a no fly zone that would likely lead to war with Russia. Well that's a tough choice
Got my ballot in the mail today. Now I'm sure everyone has gotten the thousands of fliers about Measure 97 in the mail. I'm not going to tell you how to vote, it's really none of my business, but the analyst and economist part of me does like fact checking such things. So if you're interested, here you go.

First of all, I'm not saying schools and everything couldn't use more money, it's more asking if this is the best way to do it.

1) Is Measure 97 a sales tax?
A sales tax by definition is a tax on revenues (not profits). Measure 97 is a tax on revenues (not profits) made in Oregon, therefore it is a sales tax. It is a sales tax which is limited to only C-Corporations which make $25 million or more, and it would be administered slightly differently, but it's still a sales tax no matter how you cut it. Trying to call it anything else is dishonest.

2) Does Oregon have the lowest corporate tax rate in the nation?
We've all seen the nice chart showing Oregon's super low corporate tax rate compared to everyone. Now technically this is true, but it all depends on how you define corporate taxes. Actually looking at the study the chart is based off of shows that it includes sales tax in its definition of corporate tax. Oregon is one of the few states without sales taxes, which of course, under the definition of the study, puts Oregon quite low. Not including sales tax, Oregon is more middle of the road (page 20). It's a little disingenuous to include sales tax in this calculation, given that in all the states that currently have sales taxes, the check may be written by the company, but they are included in the prices of all goods, so they are paid by the consumers.…/AEG%20Tax%20Burden%2…

3) Do companies charge the same in all states regardless of sales tax?
Though they claim Measure 97 is not a sales tax, the Oregon Consumer League still felt it necessary to try to show that sales tax have no affect on prices. To do this, they put together a study showing that retail prices are the same across the country by looking at advertising circulars and online prices (page 5 is an good example). Looks pretty convincing, at least until you read the methodology (page 15). Here's the thing, what's the most annoying thing for an Oregonian shopping out of state? The fact that none of the price tags show the price you actually pay. The sales tax is not calculated until you actually pay for the item. This is true for circulars, and this is true for retail websites. So the flyer in Oregon and Washington might both say that chicken is $3.99 a pound, but when you actually buy it in Washington you pay $4.25 ($3.99 plus the 6.5% sales tax). The fact that the study didn't include this pretty common sense factor suggests that either the people who made are idiots, or they think we're idiots. Neither really makes me want to trust them with economic analysis.…/Side-by-Side-Shopping-Car…

4) Will it only affect 1% of businesses?
Yeah, that's true, but not all businesses are created equal. Here's the things about the big corporations that will be affected by Measure 97. They may only make up 1% of the total businesses, but they make up a big chunk (close to half or more ) of our states economy and big chunk (close to half or more) of our states employment. Look at it this way. If a tax of 2.5 percent on the revenue made in Oregon by the big companies is supposed to raise $3 billion a year, this mathematically suggests that the revenue being taxed is $120 billion. So 1 percent of the businesses, but a pretty big chunk of the whole economic pie.

5) Yeah, but aren't they out of state businesses?
Doesn't matter. The businesses might be based out of state, but the sales that are being taxed are only sales that take place in Oregon. As well, they might be based out of state, but do you know who isn't out of state? All of the people who work for them and live in Oregon. These so called out of state companies, make up a big part of our economy. Trying to make it sound like they matter less to Oregon, just because they're not based here, it's just a bunch of baloney.

6) But I hate Comcast, Monsanto, and Wells Fargo?
That's fine, but those are three corporations out of somewhere around 4,000 that will be affected. So why did they bring up those three? Well, if you wanted to pick three corporations that people are going to have a strong negative response to, you couldn't have picked three better ones. It's called trying to illicit an emotional response.

7) Do they have to spend it on what they say they will?
No, according to several key Oregon Supreme Court cases without an amendment to the constitution you cannot assign where tax money will go. It all goes into the general budget. That doesn't mean that some politicians won't keep their word, but that is all that keeps the money being spent in any way.

8) So what's likely to happen to the economy if it passes?
It's unknown? Ask any economist and you'll get a different story. For my two cents, how businesses will respond is entirely depending on a number of factors all working in concert.

One of these factors is margins (profits). Companies with large margins can absorb the extra cost. Companies with narrow margins, or some years operate in a loss, will have to raise prices or cut costs to compensate.
Another factor is competition. Businesses that are in a very competitive market with all sizes of businesses, or compete mostly with companies around the country or world will be less likely able to raise their prices. Companies that mostly compete with similar size businesses, or in businesses with limited competition (example: Comcast) will have an easier time passing costs on.

Size is also a big factor. Oregon is home to 4 million people, only 1.2% of the US population and 0.05% of the world population. For big national and international companies, the percent of their revenue from Oregon is mostly quite small, meaning they can more easily absorb the costs if the other factors force them to (this doesn't mean they won't raise prices if they are not limited by the other factors, just that they probably won't go out of business if they can't). Smaller companies who don't have to pay the tax obviously get a competitive benefit since they don't pay the 2.5 percent tax. However, the one that really gets the screw job are medium sized companies, the ones that are local, statewide, or regional; companies that depend on Oregon for a significant part of their revenue, but still make over the $25 million limit. Now $25 million sounds like a lot, but a lot of businesses fit in this category. Think Powells Books, Widmer, most agricultural marketing co-ops, and pretty much any other bigger well known business that you find just here in Oregon or the Pacific Northwest. These aren't those big evil corporations we keep hearing about, but they will most likely take the brunt of the economic hardship from Measure 97.

8) Doesn't Oregon have a revenue/cost problem?
Most certainly yes. We are expected to be running deficits. So yes, this is a problem that needs to be fixed, either by upping revenue or cutting costs. However, if we go this route, we could end up hurting many of the businesses that we most love here in Oregon. This is not a black or white decision. There are other options.

Happy voting.
chubby83 is absolutely right except for one thing -- a normal sales tax is NOT on all revenues but generally excludes groceries and diapers etc. Measure 97 has no such limit. As much as I would love to see WinCo and smaller markets get a boost vs some of their execrable competitors, this tax would be even more regressive than an ordinary sales tax. No, thanks.
As for 28-183, just note that the current sheriff is running unopposed and count the arguments in opposition which come from a couple of DAs and the cities of Troutdale, Fairview and Maywood Park. Need I say more? The word "appointed" sounds scary and undemocratic. The summary should instead have read, "Should it be possible for the county to summarily fire the sheriff?"

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