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Report: What Analysis of Measure 97 Leaves Out

Measure 97 would tax corporations that make more than $25 million and use that money to fund institutions such as public education. (hdornak/flickr)
Measure 97 would tax corporations that make more than $25 million and use that money to fund institutions such as public education. (hdornak/flickr)
November 1, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – Two major economic reports on Measure 97 leave out the potential value of investment in education, health care and senior citizen services to Oregon's economy, according to a new report.

Doctor Richard Sims, chief economist for the National Education Association, analyzed the benefits of taxing businesses that make $25 million or more through in-state sales and then using that money to invest in public institutions, and concludes the extra revenue actually could strengthen Oregon's economy. Sims said businesses are especially interested in states with good educational systems.

"They want to go where there's a high-quality workforce, and the best indicator of the high-quality workforce, they tell us, is the quality of the education system," he explained.

Sims said analysis by the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office and the Northwest Economic Research Center did not take into account the added value of improved public services from the corporate tax measure. Although the measure said the added revenue will be invested in education, healthcare and senior services, opponents say the state is under no obligation to do so, and so the money could be misappropriated by lawmakers.

According to Sims' calculations, with the state spending the estimated three billion dollars in additional revenue as it does now, the measure could add 62,000 jobs to Oregon over the next decade and increase personal income by $7.1 billion a year. Sims said the measure would actually create a favorable environment for companies because companies choose where they do business based on more than just taxes.

"Businesses, like all of us, would rather have lower taxes than higher taxes, but we also locate where we get a return on our tax dollars, and that seems to be where businesses locate," he said. "They tend to locate where they can get the services they need, the workers they need, the infrastructure they need because that's what makes them more competitive, and not simply low taxes."

Oregon ranks 35th in the country in per-student spending, according to data from Education Week's Quality Counts report. However, the state has the third worst high school graduation rate in the country.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR