I was born and raised in Oregon, attended elementary, high school and college here. I love our state. I am a certified public accountant; to a large degree my accounting practice is focused on tax matters relating to Oregon businesses and the individuals who own them.

Over the years, Oregon’s schools have dramatically declined. Last year, Oregon had the fourth-lowest high school graduation rate in the entire United States, the third-largest class sizes in the nation, and one of the shortest school years. The “Quality Education Model” for Oregon schools — advocated by both business and education leaders — continues to be underfunded by over $1 billion a year!

The situation is also dire for Oregon’s seniors: Over the past 10 years there has been a 61 percent increase in the number of Oregon seniors living in poverty. Many Oregonians cannot afford to take care of their health. More than 300,000 Oregonians are without affordable health insurance, including 13,000 children. Oregon is also 39th in the U.S. for public health funding.

Support for education, Oregon seniors, health care, and other services is actually expected to worsen. The non-partisan state Legislative Fiscal Office recently issued a report projecting that without new revenues, there will be a $1.35 billion shortfall for the next biennium (2017-2019) just to maintain existing programs.

Corporations have steadily found ways to avoid paying their taxes in Oregon. Thirty years ago, businesses provided about 18 percent of all Oregon state revenues; now they provide just 6 percent. Frequently, large out-of-state national and international corporations are able to employ accounting schemes that reduce Oregon taxes to zero at the same time they are making hundreds of millions of dollars of sales in Oregon. The national accounting firm Ernst & Young says Oregon has the lowest business taxes in the entire United States.

Measure 97 will move Oregon from dead-last in corporate taxes. However, we will still have significantly lower corporate tax rates than our neighboring states. Under Measure 97, the maximum Oregon income tax rate for corporations is and will remain 20 percent less than the maximum Oregon rate on individuals’ income.

Measure 97 increases the minimum tax paid by only the largest C corporations, those doing over $25 million in sales in Oregon. Over 80 percent are huge out-of-state corporations that take their profits and invest elsewhere, but get the benefits of Oregon sales and Oregon’s low business taxes. Measure 97 does not apply to over 99 percent of all business entities in Oregon, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and S corporations.

There is a reason large corporations are fighting Measure 97: they enjoy having to pay very little to receive the benefits of doing business in Oregon.

Measure 97 may not be perfect. But it will correct decades of declining business tax revenues. Failure to pass Measure 97 will only perpetuate a tax system that allows big corporations to continue to avoid paying their fair share in supporting our community.

Let’s provide quality education to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future. Let’s provide seniors with services that allow them to live in dignity. And let’s make health care available to all our citizens.

Richard Solomon, a Portland CPA, served on the Oregon Investment Council from 2004 to 2015, and

earlier served on the Oregon

Lottery Commission. Email:

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