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Poll: Corporate sales tax measure has big lead

Measure 97, the tax on corporate sales on the general election ballot, is strongly supported by voters, according to a new poll by DHM Research.

The poll released Thursday found the measure is leading by 60 percent to 30 percent.

“Support for Measure 97 is not only notable for its intensity, but because Oregonians across the state support it. Additionally, a majority of voters of all ages, educational levels, and incomes support the

measure. The only demographic group that does not support the measure is Republicans, with 57 percent opposed. However, even one in four Republicans say they are certain to vote for Measure 97 (24 percent),” the nonpartisan Portland firm said in a release announcing the poll results.

The measure would impose a 2.5 percent tax on corporate sales of more than $25 million in Oregon. The tax would be on gross sales, not profits. It is estimated to raise a little more than $3 billion a year for schools and social programs, although the Legislature can spend the money as it pleases.

Although Oregon voters have repeatedly rejected sale taxes in the past, the firm says the support reflects voter opinions that corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes.

“Six in 10 Oregonians think large businesses pay too little in state taxes (59 percent) — nearly the same percentage as those in support of the measure itself,” according to the release.

The measure was placed on the ballot by a petition drive primarily supported by public employee unions. It is opposed by most of the business community.

"This is consistent with what we're hearing every day from Oregonians who are ready to hold corporations accountable and better fund our schools and critical services," says Katherine Driessen, the press secretary for Our Oregon, which supported the initiative drive and backs the measure.

"The measure starts with a really positive ballot title and the campaign hasn't really started, so I think we'll have much more of a conversation going forward," says consultant Pat McCormick, a spokesman for the measure's opponents.

The telephone poll of 517 Oregon voters was conducted from Thursday, Sept. 1, through Monday, Sept. 6. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.


Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the amount the measure would raise each year. The amount is $3 billion a year.