Oregonians are faced with the largest tax increase in the state's history, a package supported by the governor and certain legislators who were too weak to make fiscally responsible choices for Oregon.

Measure 30 is a mechanism for elected officials to escape the difficult task of balancing the state budget within current means. It is a compilation of tax increases on families, seniors, small businesses, corporations, tobacco and even SUVs.

The tri-county area would be affected tremendously by the passage of Measure 30:

Multnomah County residents will be faced with double taxation after paying their new county-level income tax, and more businesses will flee for a more welcoming environment. Washington County, once known for its flurry of activity as the 'Silicon Forest,' will suffer continued job loss, and thousands of residents will remain Ñ or become Ñ unemployed. Clackamas County residents, including the thousands of farmers and small-business owners, will see backbreaking increases in personal, business and property taxes.

The pain will not be isolated to the metro area. Hardworking Oregonians throughout the state will see income tax increases. Seniors in all 36 counties will pay higher taxes as a result of lost medical expense deductions. All property owners will see the slashing of their early payment discount. Oregon's small and large businesses will be forced to pay higher taxes, ultimately passing the burden on to consumers and employees.

There is a problem in Salem, and it is not a lack of revenue. We have a government that has become so accustomed to growth that restraint is impossible, even when necessary.

Our budget has increased an astonishing 151 percent in the last 15 years. Now Oregon is faced with a difficult economic recession, a time when most have to control spending and rein in household budgets. Rather than follow suit, the governor, all elected Democrats and a few elected Republicans simply turn to struggling Oregonians to cover spending habits.

In Oregon, most revenue comes from income taxes paid by employees and businesses, as well as taxes paid by those who have made a commitment to invest in property. The last thing on our agenda should be to foster high unemployment, driving businesses out of the state and discouraging homeownership.

All of these will result from further increasing our tax rates. There will be little or no incentive for employers to remain in Oregon, let alone move here from elsewhere. Families will believe they can have a higher quality of life in states that aren't so demanding on their pocketbooks. Individuals will be disinclined to purchase property and invest in their communities.

Measure 30 is our chance to tell the governor, and those legislators on his side, that Oregonians expect better. We expect a government that is responsible with our tax dollars and calls for thorough audits of department and agency expenditures. We expect a government that is willing to take control of the budget and live up to its constitutional duty. Until we can be assured that government is using our tax dollars wisely, we should not be quick to give into its ungrounded demands for more.

Ask the governor or your legislator about agency ending-fund balances, -vacant positions still receiving funding, options for additional PERS reforms and the other funds currently available to balance the budget. These are the responsible options that are fair to all Oregonians.

Russ Walker is chief petitioner for Measure 30 and the director of Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy. He lives in Keizer.

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