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Dont scrap vital taxpayer safeguard

Two Views • Should the double-majority rule be amended?

The double-majority rule has worked well for more than a decade. Voters have even affirmed the rule three times on the ballot.

The only reason to ignore the will of the voters and to halt something that works is because government wants to raise more property taxes more often and to pass these taxes faster and easier.

Property taxes already are high and Oregon state and local government spending per capita has been higher than the national average. Knowing this, voters should ask what emergency warrants removing the double-majority rule that protects taxpayers from higher tariffs.

There is no emergency. Measure 56 is unnecessary and it creates several unwanted problems.

• Measure 56 disregards independent voters.

During primary elections, independent voters have fewer ballot choices. As a result, independent-voter participation can drop by 50 percent from the general election.

Measure 56 would make it easier to pass new taxes in primary elections when independent voters and other voters have historically low turnout.

• Measure 56 makes raising taxes four times easier.

Measure 56 would stop the majority-turnout rule for four elections during a normal two-year election cycle. This would allow government to propose new property taxes once every six months with no voter participation protection.

• Measure 56 would repeat government abuses of the past.

In the old days, taxpayers complained of having to reject the same tax over and over again. The majority-turnout rule helped stop this abuse. Measure 56 weakens these voter participation protections.

Should we remove these taxpayer safeguards?

I don't think so.

The double-majority rule has been working for taxpayers and has been affirmed by voters many times. Politicians should have democracy's best interest in mind by holding important property tax elections when participation is at its highest, not the lowest.

Sneaking big taxes through low turnout elections every six months does not serve the interest of voters or our democracy. Vote 'no' on Measure 56.

Jason Williams is executive director of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon and OregonWatchdog.com.