This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 14, 2003 4:39 AM. The previous post in this blog was Going once, going twice. The next post in this blog is What it's all about. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, March 14, 2003

When good tax increases go bad

The tax package to bail out the Portland public schools and other social services is finally being detailed to the public, and the news is a bit disappointing. The gals and guys of our city and county governments have taken a fine idea and screwed it up, at least somewhat.

In late January, Multnomah County voters voted in favor of Measure 28, which would have raised state income tax rates from 9 percent to 9.5 percent. The rest of the state said no, and our schools and other social services were plunged into a catastrophic state in which they are still wallowing.

Multnomah County Commissioner Lisa Naito had a great idea: Let's impose the 0.5 percent tax increase as a county tax, to benefit schools and other services here in Multnomah County. Great idea, Lisa!

Then the City of Portland got involved. Next thing you know, an increase in city business license fees was suddenly on the table. Then the chamber of commerce (called the Portland Business Alliance) got involved, including conducting some sort of voter survey that was discussed in some sort of closed meeting with our elected leaders (so typical of the way business is done in Portland).

And now the details of the emerging package are made public.

And it includes an income tax increase, all right. But not to 9.5 percent -- to 10.25 percent!

Also, contrary to earlier published reports, the county either doesn't have the authority or doesn't have the guts to impose the tax without a public vote.

So it's back to the polls again, with ballots due in late May, to save the schools, blah blah blah. But if they were asking you for an extra $100 a year before, now they're up to $250.

If they were asking you for $300 a year before, now they're up to $750.

Leave it to our local politicos to screw this up. I may hold my nose and vote for this thing, but if they think I'm too stupid to notice that it's 2 1/2 times what I offered to pay in January, they're mistaken. And if the public says, "No, you missed your chance," I promise you I won't be here ranting and raving about it.

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