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  • Unions In Oregon Push For Corporations To Pay Fair Share, Fund Education, Health Care
    Updated On: Sep 15, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, September 8, 2016

    Unions in Oregon are campaigning for a November ballot measure, known as Measure 97, that will require corporations that have over 25 million dollars in sales in the state to pay their fair share and help fund public education, health care and senior services.

    Katherine Driessen is Press Secretary for the ‘A Better Oregon’ Campaign, a coalition of labor unions and other progressive groups supporting the measure: 

    [Katherine Driessen]: “For about two decades now in Oregon, we’ve seen significant disinvestments in those services.  Corporations doing business here are effectively paying the lowest corporate taxes in the country.   Measure 97 asks predominantly large and out-of-state corporations to pay a slightly higher tax on their income here.  Our measure would raise enough revenue to make a meaningful difference in our schools and would also help us provide better in-home care to seniors, provide more affordable and more successful health care to Oregonians.”

    Driessen says that as a result of the states’ reluctance to tax corporations, Oregon is two billion dollars short of being able to fully fund schools.  Hannah Vandering is an elementary Physical Education Teacher and President of the Oregon Education Association:

    [Hannah Vandering]: “Our students have suffered for over two decades.  We’re currently the third largest class sizes in this nation.  We have one of the shortest school years in the nation.  We’ve cut PE, music, career and technical, art…those things that really inspire student learning.  As educators, we want them to have a well-rounded education that prepares them to be successful in life, and in order to do that, everyone has to step up and pay their fair share.”

    While unions and the ‘A Better Oregon’ campaign have been knocking on doors in a grassroots effort to drum up support for Measure 97, Driessen says the opposition is spending lots of money to try to defeat it:

    [Katherine Driessen]: “We’ve seen more money, I think, pour into the state from out-of-state corporations than we ever have before on the opposition side.”

    Measure 97 would put an extra 2.5 percent tax on all sales over 25 million dollars, affecting about a thousand corporations.  Vandering of the OEA says that while the tax rate for corporations has gone down, the tax rate for everyday working class Oregonians has gone up.  Meanwhile, workers in Oregon schools have also been sacrificing:

    [Hannah Vandering]: “Educators across Oregon have accepted changes in the collective bargaining agreements to help the state provide the best possible education, through cut days, through loss of benefits, through having class sizes go up and the work-loads go up.  So, everyday Oregonians have reached into their pockets and said ‘we support public education, we want our students to have a quality education’, while corporations have just stood by and just asked for more tax breaks, and that’s not right.”

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