Concerned Portlanders respond to the question: Is a sales tax needed? Why or why not?
Rachel Gerber, a legal secretary, of Beaverton: 'Yes Ñ adding a sales tax (a third tier) would more fairly (and consistently) fund government's duties to Oregonians Ñ and fair is always smart. Proportionately lower income and property taxes, and it's a go with me.'Ê
Harvey Fink, a downtown Portland business consultant, of Vancouver, Wash.: 'No. Why would anyone put an alcoholic in a liquor store and expect him to stay sober? Giving government another means to get more money isn't the answer. It would hurt the business community.'
Tim Raphael, an employee with the Trust for Public Land, of Southeast Portland: 'Ashland has a sales tax on restaurant meals that's dedicated to protecting open space. Imagine the possibilities here for a sales tax to provide stable funding for key parts of our quality of life Ñ open space and schools.'
Chuck Jones, a financial planner, of Southwest Portland: 'Yes, 8 percent, but coupled with reduction of income tax to 3 percent, elimination of capital gains tax and with conversion of PERS to a 401k plan with maximum employer match of $1 for $1 up to first 3 percent of salary.'
Alex Diamond, a student at Franklin High School, of Southeast Portland: 'A sales tax is the wrong vision of taxation because it places a greater burden on the poor, who spend a greater percentage of their money. We should tax those who can afford it.'
Richard Ellmyer, a computer consultant and neighborhood activist, of North Portland: 'Priority budgeting is a welcome, creative and outstanding idea to emerge from Salem. It's how businesses and families arrange their lives. The Legislature should institutionalize this fundamental concept. Current sales tax priority, low.'
Kyle Stoneman, a senior at Wilson High School, of Southwest Portland: 'A sales tax would be a solid, stable source for funding programs near and dear to Oregonians. However, there are other options, such as overhauling the current tax structure, that could provide an equally solid and stable source of revenue. I think that those options should be exhausted, before a sales tax is considered.'
Jill Eiland, a manager for an early childhood education company, of Northwest Portland: 'Yes. As the current budget crisis illustrates, a statewide sales tax, as part of a tax reform initiative that is capped at an appropriate percentage, would contribute to the stable funding foundation our schools and social services deserve. Oregon remains one of very few states that have not created a mechanism for visitors to contribute to our economic vitality.'
Paddy Tillett, an urban designer, of Northwest Portland: 'Only by asking the right question will you get the right answer. Take a fresh look at what Oregon needs to pay for through taxes, then devise an equitable package of taxes that will meet those needs. Portland's City Club went through that process in great detail last year, and published a report on tax reform. It demonstrated that a fair, equitable and stable state tax system is possible. It might include a sales tax, but that is the wrong place to begin. The voters have told us so repeatedly.'
Melissa Ritter, a consultant, of Northeast Portland: 'Oregon clearly needs tax reform given that we are currently unable to both provide a satisfactory level of services and establish a rainy-day fund. However, since a sales tax has been voted down multiple times, it's a waste of energy to focus on it.'
Elizabeth Tucker, a graphic designer, of Northeast Portland: 'If the sales tax was proposed as part of a significant overhaul of the Oregon tax system, or as a replacement for another tax, perhaps. But just as an add-on, or as a short-term fix, no.'
Misti Wittenberg, an executive of a long-term care retirement community, of Northwest Portland: 'You must eliminate income taxes before voters would consider a statewide, fixed sales tax. Government mismanagement has eroded voters' confidence. Today, any sales tax would be DOA, just as it has been nine times before.'
Arlene Kimura, a neighborhood activist, of east Portland: 'Too many laid-off Oregonians feel there are still too many highly paid government administrative staff at all levels (with too many perks) to truly need the money from a sales tax.'