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M97 will make large corporations pay their fair share of state taxes

Most Oregonians are proud of living in Oregon, and we like to think of our state as special, distinctive, and more progressive than much of the nation.

Many would be shocked to learn that Oregon is quite distinctive — with regard to how little we collect in corporate taxes, which leads to low investments in education and public services.

Unfortunately, Oregon has one of the lowest effective corporate taxes in the country, according to two independent economic studies. Since corporations have argued that they should be given the same rights as “people,” they should pay their fair share of taxes.

The effect of this corporate welfare means that Oregon does not have the revenue that it needs to:

¦ Protect children from abuse and neglect;

¦ Ensure that our kids attend fully funded schools with small class sizes;

¦ Guarantee that all Oregonians have health insurance; and

¦ Provide needed state services for our aging seniors.

Data in the 2016 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that Oregon ranks 32nd in the nation on child well-being. According to Children First for Oregon, “22 percent — over one in five Oregon children — lives in poverty. That’s five kids in every 25-child classroom in the state. To put it another way, it’s nearly enough children in poverty to fill Reser and Autzen stadiums twice over.”

Children First supports Measure 97 since it will help them achieve their goal to make Oregon “the best place to be a kid.”

Measure 97 is a narrowly targeted increase in the minimum income tax for C corporations with more than $25 million in annual Oregon sales. Contrary to the scare tactic ads from the opposition, this does not affect “mom and pop” small businesses. C corporations represent large, publicly traded corporations, such as Comcast, Walmart, McDonalds, Monsanto, Wells Fargo and Chevron, and these are the types of corporations that are funding the campaign against Measure 97 by spreading lies and misinformation about the impact of its passage.

Measure 97 will bring $3 billion a year into the state coffers that will be directed to education, healthcare and senior services. It will not destroy jobs or result in higher prices for consumers. In fact, according to the Economic Policy Institute, states with higher taxes generally have stronger economies because more revenue leads to more investments in human capital that actually grows the economy.

Over the past several decades, the burden of taxation has increasingly been shifted from corporations to individual taxpayers, and many wealthy corporations get away with paying little to no taxes at all. If you believe that it is fair and just that corporations have a social responsibility to the communities where they do business, then vote “Yes” on Measure 97.

Corporations can’t have it both ways. They can’t fight to have the same rights as “people” and then shirk the responsibilities. Perhaps if they were forced to give up their tax loopholes and pay taxes like the rest of us, they wouldn’t want to be a “person” after

all.

Jessica A. Ritter, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Social Work at Pacific University in Forest Grove.