Four years ago, when I first ran for Bend’s City Council, I pledged to make fiscally responsible decisions that served our entire community.
Today I have decided that, although Oregon needs tax reform, Measure 97 isn’t the answer.
The fundamental intent behind Measure 97 is good, but it’s just another incomplete, quick fix, not tax reform.
I’ve studied this issue carefully, and talked to many people on all sides and with many viewpoints. Our state desperately deserves -- and needs -- tax reform including increasing the lowest corporate tax rate in the Nation. But the reform must be thoughtful and well-constructed.
Every public discussion in Oregon about budgets raises problems that need to be “fixed." But first we need to get our state’s budget in line. A $1.3 billion shortfall is only covered up if Measure 97 passes. If we don't control costs, including PERS, even that money will not be enough.
In the 1990’s, two state wide tax measures (5 and 50), resulted in freezing all tax rates as well as separating and limiting a property’s tax assessed value from its real market value.
For the City of Bend, these measures created a permanent tax rate far below almost every other city in the state and disconnected tax revenue from the significant growth in real estate value. As a result, our Bend city government struggles to address all of our residents' needs. I experience this every day in my job. The real and diverse needs of our population far outweigh the City’s capacity.
Please join me in urging our State legislators and Governor to work together on a long term, visionary funding structure for Oregon -- one that is comprehensive and fair, and fixes the many inequities of the existing system.