Measure 28 is a proposal calling for a three-year boost in the state income tax. The Oregon Legislature referred the measure to voters after a summer of special sessions failed to balance the state budget.

Measure 28 would increase Oregon's top personal income tax rate from 9 percent to 9.5 percent for three years, costing the average taxpayer an extra $114 a year until the tax expires in 2005.

The extra tax would balance what's left of the 2001-03 budget and help boost the 2003-05 budget, expected to arrive this spring with bleak revenue prospects. If the measure fails, another $310 million comes out of the 2001-03 budget in a package of cuts that kick in Feb. 1, three days after the votes are counted.

Opponents of the measure say Oregon's state spending is excessive and that the state has other ways to save money than cutting essential services. Supporters say Oregon needs Measure 28 to avoid firing teachers and police officers and making deep cuts in government services.

Measure 28 carries no long-term policy consequences and doesn't change any of the fundamentals in the Oregon tax system.

Vote-by-mail ballots for Measure 28 were sent to Oregon voters last week and must be returned by Jan. 28 to be counted.

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