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Most Clackamas candidates oppose business tax increase

One is for it, nine against at business alliance forum.

Only one of 10 candidates for three Clackamas County board positions supports a proposed ballot initiative that would impose a higher minimum tax on businesses with more than $25 million in Oregon sales.

The initiative, which has not yet qualified for the Nov. 8 statewide election, sharply divides business groups from labor unions.

“My personal preference would be to see this wrestled over by the Legislature, because I am not a fan of governance by initiative,” Ken Humberston of Beavercreek, a candidate for Position 4, said at a forum sponsored by the Clackamas County Business Alliance.

“But given that it is the option on the table, I would support it.

“Big corporations in this state want educated workers who are healthy and have good transportation systems to get to work, yet they want somebody else to pay for them… Who do you think pays now? It’s the people in this room — small-business people — and the workers they employ.”

The measure would raise an estimated $5 billion over the two-year state budget cycle.

The forum took place April 1 at the Abernethy Center in Oregon City.

But even with his qualifiers, Humberston stood alone among the candidates on what is known as Initiative Petition 28, which is backed by unions. If it qualifies for the statewide ballot, the measure will be assigned a different number. The minimum tax would be $30,001 plus 2.5 percent on Oregon sales exceeding $25 million annually.

It drew opposition from the two other candidates for Position 4, plus the three candidates for Position 3 and the four candidates for board chairman (Position 1). Excerpts from the other candidates are below:

Position 4

Tootie Smith of Mulino, incumbent: “There is no promise at all that this money will go into the things they say it will,” referring to education and health care in the state budget.

Bill King of Sandy, candidate: “Anyone who thinks corporations are going to pay more taxes because of it is a fool.”

Position 1 (chairman)

John Ludlow of Wilsonville, incumbent: “If these corporations say enough is enough, they will move to Washington state, or wherever, and with them go the jobs.”

Dan Holladay of Oregon City, candidate: “It is the single worst idea that has come down the road in Oregon for a long, long time. It can be used any way the Legislature chooses to.”

Commissioner Jim Bernard of Canby, candidate: He mentions that local auto dealer Bob Lanphere will pay $12.5 million, instead of $5.5 million. “Where do you think they are going to collect that money? It’s going to come out of the people who buy cars.”

Commissioner Paul Savas of Oak Grove, candidate: He got into county politics in 2010 in reaction to budget-balancing state tax increases that voters upheld as Measures 66 and 67. “If it (Oregon) was such a great tax environment for corporations paying no taxes or little in taxes, they would be swarming here. They are not.”

Position 3

Martha Schrader of Canby, incumbent: “It is a supply-chain issue for our small and medium-sized businesses. Folks who work in those businesses are going to face some real challenges.”

Steve Bates of Boring, candidate: “It will retard economic development. It will erase any pluses we have experienced in economic development over the past several years.”

Jenifer Valley of Happy Valley, candidate: She said her marijuana dispensary business is already subject to a 25 percent state tax on sales for recreational use, and that on gross sales of $250,000 in the first three months the tax has been in effect, she has paid $40,000 in the first two months. “I think the cannabis tax will probably cover it.”

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