Wednesday, March 29, 2023
March 29, 2023

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Voters will step up when cuts get to be too much, Moeller says

He sees that as message from tax approval in Oregon

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Rep. Jim Moeller Photo Gallery

He sees that as message from tax approval in Oregon

State Rep. Jim Moeller sees a positive omen for resolving Washington’s budget crisis in Oregon voters’ approval of two tax measures Tuesday:

When the budget knife cuts too deep, the voters will step up.

By a 54-46 ratio, Oregon voters passed Measure 66, which raises income taxes on households with taxable income of more than $250,000, and Measure 67, which sets higher minimum taxes on corporations and increases the tax rate on large corporate profits.

The Oregon Legislature approved the new permanent tax increases in 2009 to stave off deep cuts in school funding and social services due to a $727 million state budget shortfall. Corporations that opposed the taxes succeeded in referring both measures to the ballot.

“I think quite clearly that having both of those measures pass sends the message that voters get it, that you can’t just continue to cut education, cut services to the aging and disabled,” said Moeller, a Vancouver Democrat. “Oregon voters quite clearly said: ‘No, we aren’t going to simply continue to cut. We are going to raise taxes on those who can quite clearly pay more and have not paid their fair share.’”

Tuesday’s vote in Oregon, coming on the heels of Washington voters’ rejection of Initiative 1033 in November, indicates that “the voters understand that we are in a fiscal crisis, and that these primary core government functions are at risk of failure without significant tax support,” Moeller said.

I-1033, sponsored by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman, proposed to cap the growth of revenue to cities, counties and the state general fund, with revenue in excess of that cap refunded to taxpayers in the form of lower property taxes.

In Olympia, Moeller said, Democratic legislators’ tax packages “are still coming together” and will likely include sales taxes on some specialty items, such as candy and bottled water, as well as targeted tax increases for some out-of-state businesses. Moeller himself has introduced a bill to make candy subject to the state sales tax and devote the proceeds to public health programs around the state.

“All options are still on the table. What will be in the final package, I’m not exactly sure,” he said.

Before majority Democrats can pass any new tax or tax increase, both the House and the Senate must vote to suspend a provision in Initiative 960, another Eyman initiative, which requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber to raise taxes. Only a simple majority vote is needed to suspend that requirement.

“That bill needs to be on the governor’s desk before we can take action” on new taxes, Moeller said.

Kathie Durbin: 360-735-4523 or