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Oregon Income Tax-cutting Initiatives and Legislative Referrals for November, 2000

Last Updated June 07, 2000

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The following list is an index of articles, commentaries, and letters about raising or eliminating Oregon's existing $3000 limit on exemptions for Federal income taxes. The more extreme measure is Bill Sizemore's proposed initiative to amend the Oregon State Constitution to completely exempt federal income taxes from Oregon State income taxes. The current status of the initiative petition (SOS ID #10) is available from the Oregon Secretary of State's Website . At last update, the petition had fewer than the necessary number of valid signatures. The second item is Measure 88 (SOS ID # 210), a referral from the 1999 Oregon Legislature, which was passed as SB 535 and would cap the exemption for federal taxes at $5000.

A majority of the articles below have appeared in The Oregonian and are available from the OregonLive archives. (In case of broken links to the paper's website, notify OregonLive Editor-in-Chief Kevin Cosgrove). The annotations describe the items (from the perspective of The Don Quixote Society Website) and reference some of their connections to the other articles.

The Don Quixote Society Website will endeavor to update this bibliography as the campaign progresses toward the November, 2000 election. Additions, omissions, and opinions can be submitted as feedback, using the email link on that homepage. The media coverage is not intended to be limited to material appearing in The Oregonian.

The list of coverage has fallen behind. Consequently, only the highlights of the recent discovery and indictment of Sizemore's assistant, Kelli Highley,for forgery and petition tampering will be annotated. Bill calls the criminal charges a politically-motivated witchhunt. The Oregon Elections Division has declined to disqualifythe "double-taxation" initiative despite the alleged fraud. While warning of disaster from the "double taxation" initiative, the Oregonian continues to credit Sizemore initiatives M5 and M47 with gaining property-tax breaks for working class wage-earners - despite data showing 75% of the benefits went to businesses. The paper editorially minimizes the damage done by the tax cuts to schools, health care, transportation infrastructure, and other public services.

06/07/00 Oregonian's Sarasohn blasts Sizemore as failure in politics, business. "People have to make a living somehow. And what we learned in 1998, when Sizemore ran for governor, is that he's disastrous in private business and unthinkable in public office." Size's resume shows he's just able to fleece Oregon's suckers - to deliver big tax breaks for his rich backers.

Timothy McSizemore bombs Oregon's public services infrastructure The Don Q. Website comments on the similarity between the ultimate objectives of Sizemore, his Oregon Taxpayers United, and other hate-government groups. The main difference is that Size & Co. are doing their monkey-wrenching in support of the profit margins of wealthy supporters.

Counterfeit Bill replies (The Oregonian, 4/29/00), saying the voters have passed his tax cutting and "double-majority" initiatives and that is an indication of the people's power, not his. He doesn't address the issue of how much his rich supporters paid for high-priced campaign flim-flam to spin the issues to otherwise uninformed voters. He does not acknowledge the flaws in his M-40, which required a second election to pass M-50, to clean up the self-contradictory parts of his original. Size also has not dealt with the growing dissatisfaction with the double-majority law that encourages non-voting as a double vote against tax issues.
Size has also returned signatures to place another measure on the Nov, 2000, ballot prohibiting pay raises for school teachers based on seniority or additional education; the measure would restrict raises to loosely defined "merit"" increases in "appropriate knowledge."

Poll shows Oregonians don't learn from Calif. tax-cutting mistakes
The Oregonian - KATU-TV poll indicates nearly half of Oregon voters favor the Sizemore tax-cutting initiative allowing unlimited deduction for federal taxes. Glen Bowers of Grants Pass is cited as an example of those who think that cutting taxes for the rich will result in trickle-down benefits for working people. Without even knowing it, Bowers is supporting the "supply-side" economic theories promoted by Ronald Reagan. Because it quadrupled the US national debt, the supply side theory has been, for the most part discredited, especially by Californians whose economy, public schools, highways, health services and other public infrastructure was devastated in the 20 years following their tax-cutting frenzy.
Apparently, Oregonians are even more gullible and are still, 20 years later, willing to allow wealthy patrons to enrich themselves in hopes a few centavos will trickle down to the peasants.

Don "windbag" McIntire seconds Size's attack
In an addition to the tax-cutting threat to funding of public services and infrastructure, we now have an initiative by Don McIntire, "The father of Measure 5," which would attack from the opposite side by limiting state spending to 15% of personal income in the state during the previous bienium. Had this measure been in effect during the current budget period, it would have cut 12% from the already disgracefully inadequate level of school funding and long-term investment in public infrastructure.

If the people of Oregon are so stupid as to follow these buffoons in doing the bidding of their millionaire backers (Mark Hemstreet, etc.) they deserve what they get. The people of California destroyed their schools and parks and highways for 20 years, and are now playing catchup - except there's no way to rescue the lost generation. With such an example right next door, Oregonians have no excuse for having passed Measure 5 and M-50 (and M-11). If the voters are so gullible as to shoot themselves in the feet again for the benefit of the rich, they deserve what they get.

04/12/00 Kitzhaber abandons fight for "kicker" money
Using the threat of the Sizemore "double tax" initiative as an excuse, the Governor gave up one of his two remaining proposals for tax reform: his effort to use a portion of the kicker and tobacco settlement money to be used to create a "rainy day" fund to protect schools against an economic downturn. The next day, The Oregonian editorialized its disappointment, Schools shut out again, saying,

"Gov. John Kitzhaber, Oregon's supposed power hitter for public schools, picked a warm spring day to reveal that he's putting down his bat and spending the entire election season playing defense.
Maybe that's a good strategy, given the apparent strength of the opposition.
Yet it's deeply disappointing that the governor won't be going to bat this year for serious proposals to strengthen funding for Oregon's schools.
We agree with The Oregonian in all but their assessment of the "strength of the opposition." We think the Governor, by taking the nut-cake tax-cutter Sizemore's insane initiative proposal so seriously, he gives the "double tax"-break-for-the-rich legs which it doesn't otherwise have. And besides, there is a very long list of energetic opposition to the Size ballot measure (including The Knight and his Apprentice).

Again on the 15th, Kitz is reported, Kitzhaber sees dire threat to schools (Oregonian, 4/15/00), to be emphasizing the dangers of more tax-cutting from Sizemore. He doesn't seem to get it : that many of the schools are already in free fall; the real job is to restore what has been cut. There is the appearance that Kitz is ducking the harder job of battling for the kicker and real additional $$ for schools.

03/22/00 Study tallies impact of tax cut initiative (The Oregonian) by Steve Suo reports on the results of a study of Sizemore's so-called "double-tax" initiative, which would allow unlimited deductions of federal income taxes from Oregon returns. According to the Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office, if approved, the measure would require a retroactive reduction in state spending toward the end of bienium 2001-2002 amounting to a 30% across-the-board roll-back of funding for higher ed,state police,the Oregon Health Plan

01/23/00 The year of the voter is a strong editorial from The Oregonian calling on citizens to wake up and support Oregon's political infrastructure, including funding for schools, health care, land-use planning, and protection of the environment. The paper reviews the State of the State speech and repeats Kitz's warning to voters that their complacency could allow Sizemore and his wealthy tax-cutting backers to jeapordize all that is desirable in Oregon's lifestyle.

01/22/00 Kitzhaber takes on Sizemore again by James Mayer of The Oregonian reports Governor Kitzhaber used his State of the State speech to challenge Sizemore to debate his plan to allow unlimited deductions of fedeal income taxes from Oregon taxes. The governor called the Sizemore initiative "Maddness," and described the damage $1.6 billion cuts would do to state services. Portland pollster Tim Hibbitts says Kitz's challenge may elevate Sizes's ideas to a status they would not otherwise achieve.

01/22/00 Governor Kitzhaber's State of the State speech "targets schools,health" says the Oregonian's headline by Lisa Grace Lednicer. Kitzhaber warns that tax-cut proposals by Sizemore would undermine essential elements supporting current Oregon prosperity and quality of life. The cuts required by Size's initiative would amount to "walking away from children at risk."

01/18/00 Rich get richer and the poor...
This Oregonian Editorial decries the trend of widening income gaps in Oregon. With so much of the prosperity going to the wealthy, there is no reason to consider tax cuts that would mostly benefit the rich, such as allowing the full amount of federal income taxes to be deducted from the Oregon tax. The income gap is seen by the paper as a possible cause for social discontent and quotes talk of a class war. The point is made that these data hardly support Sizemore's appeal for tax cuts for his needy-rich friends.

01/18/00 Oregon families'income inequality grows according to The Oregonian by Jim Mayer. The report is about Pulling Apart: A State-by-State Analysis of Income Trends by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute. The study shows Oregon as second among all the 50 states in the growth of the family income gap over the past ten years. The Oregon stats are shocking: the top 1/5th income bracket gained 38%; the middle 1/5th gained 1%;the poorest 1/5th lost 14%. MUST READ.

01/16/00 Speech will focus on future of Oregon By Lisa Grace Lednicer of The Oregonian
Gov.Kitzhaber prepares for a class war over taxcuts by announcing the formation of groups of influential business and civic leaders to defeat irresponsible taxcutting measures which would cripple Oregon's education, transportation, and health care systems.
Initiatives that Kitzhaber is fighting: He opposes a referral from the Legislature that would raise the deduction allowed for federal tax returns from $3,000 to $5,000. Sizemore's cut is deeper .... state budget officials estimate that the loss of income tax revenues, which are the primary source of money for schools, could translate into immediate cuts of more than 20 percent in state programs.

01/15/00 Unions bulk up for ballot fight By Steve Mayes of The Oregonian outlines the broad scope of the upperclass strategies against public services and public employees, as Sizemore and the OTU seek to reward their rich patrons with even more tax breaks at the expense of government services and protections which benefit the working class.
Tax crusader Bill Sizemore is backing two initiatives that would outlaw unions' using voluntary payroll deductions to finance their political activities. Don McIntire is promoting a measure that would require voters to approve state and local government labor contracts and one that would even further limit property taxes and eliminate local option taxes.
Sizemore is also behind a proposal that would severely limit state spending. His top priority is his proposal that would make federal income taxes fully deductible from state income taxes. The result from this single measure would be an immediate $1 billion cut in the state budget, $1.6 billion per year in the following year and almost certain layoffs in the state's work force.

01/15/00 Tie tax cuts to service cuts by Raymond H. Fischer praises the remarks of Don Campbell (01/09/00) and suggests those who are only concerned about "MY" interests and "My" tax cuts, should also be the ones to suffer the cuts in services.

01/09/00 Self-interest rules in tax talk Good letter - asks how will service & funding cuts be made up. Everyone wants MY taxes cut. by Don Campbell, Estacada

01/06/00 Critic offers no evidence rebuts Ross Smith, 1/1 (below), who accused The Oregonian of liberal bias. by Oregon State Senator Ginny Burdick

01/06/00 Sizemore needs more valid signatures for tax initiative News story - over 20,000 of the signatures submitted by the Sizemore petitioners found invalid - from Salem, by Lisa Grace Lednicer

01/04/00 End taxation of taxes from George Cummings of Brookings adds little to the discussion and after dismissing Ken Lewis's statistics (12/26, below) without argument, just repeats Sizemore's claim that there is something immoral about limiting the exemption of federal taxes from the Oregon income tax.

01/03/00 Income doesn't equal productivity by Joe W. Walker of Gresham is another rebuttal of Johm Bowman's 12/22 assertion that high income reflects individual productivity (and social and moral worth).

01/01/00 Fairness sought in tax codes This is a block of five letters , three of which support Sizemore's initiative, two oppose it. One by Steve Spence argues that overall the 50 states' taxes have increased more than our national GNP; he claims this means the states don't need more money to operate. Ross Smith accuses The Oregonian of a liberal bias and asserts that limiting the federal exemption is somehow immoral. Carol Suzuki rebuts John Bowman's claim (12/22) that progressive taxation is socialism, and rejects his idea that wealth indicates productivity. Brad Levy apparently does not understand that "progressivity" refers to tax rates and not just to the total amount of taxes paid. Charles Swindells of 1000 Friends of Oregon argues about another tax-cutting initiative (Measure 46); his letter, however meritorious, is probably misplaced by The Oregonian .

01/01/00 Productivity a matter of opinion A hard-hitting, satirical letter by Nancy Barker rebuts Bowman (12/22). She cites a number of examples of prominent, productive individuals whose efforts have not led to higher incomes.

12/26/99 Tax initiative unfair,regressive, by Ken Lewis
who takes issue with David Reinhard's commentary of 12/12, End double tax demagogy. Lewis challenges Reinhard's failure to confront the facts and presents persuasive statistics in reply. Lewis charges Reinhard has been deceptive and has used erroneous ad hominem references to his ( Lewis's) motives for opposing the Sizemore initiative.

12/25/99 Think about the Common Good by Jerald Furgurson is an excellent description of the tax-cutters' selfishness and lack of civic responsibility.

12/25/99 Look at use of services, too by Frank D. Smith attempts to rebutt Mark Wiener's letter, "Sizemore's statistics misleading," 12/18. Smith talks proportionality, ignores progressivity, and does not address Weiner's solid challenges to Sizemore's statistics.

12/22/99 Tax breaks should be proportional by John Bowman claims The Oregonian's 12/20 coverage of the Sizemore petition is liberally biased and socialist. Bowman opposes any progressivity in the tax code, calling this "regressive." He strongly defends the "unequal accumulation of wealth," as what has made America strong.

12/18/99 Sizemore's statistics misleading by MARK WIENER challenges Sizemore's use of state spending figures in direct comparison with inflation. Like The Don Quixote Society letter of 12/13 (below), Wiener points out that Size has neglected to take into account other factors besides inflation which increase costs to the state - such as population growth. Wiener estimates the Sizemore initiative will cost the state general fund $1.66 billion.

12/14/99 Tax initiative a windfall for wealthy by MARTIN TAYLOR disputes Sizemore's 12/4 Opinion article, which he describes as "incredibly misleading without telling an outright lie." He points out that the richest 6 percent of Oregonians would get two-thirds of the measure's total tax cuts.

12/13/99 The Don Quixote Society's unpublished letter to The Oregonian: In his reply to The Oregonian editorial of 11/9 (see below),Sizemore's 12/4 "In Response" defends the deep cuts in the state budget and public services which would result from the passage of his initiative by stating: "the state's general fund has been growing at about four times the rate of inflation year after year." In pretending inflation is the only justifiable reason for government budgets to rise, Sizemore neglects to take into account obvious increases in Oregon's population -- and with increased population, all the added public services needed to accomodate growth and development.

12/11/99 End double tax demagogy by David Reinhard The Oregonian's conservative columnist spends much of the article bad-mouthing liberals. His main argument follows the Sizemore/OTU party line:

Oregonians have to pay state income taxes on the taxes they pay each year to Uncle Sam....Thus, Oregon is taxing income that taxpayers can never spend, because the feds have already claimed it. How fair or responsible is that?

The same "double tax" argument could be made against limiting state or federal exemptions for gasoline taxes,excise taxes,government licenses and all kinds of fees, and, in many cities and states, sales taxes. The bumper-sticker slogan against "double taxation" records a general objection -- perhaps that most, if not all, taxation is unfair -- but the slogan is not persuasive against the decades of public support in Oregon for progressive income tax rates and the obvious need to provide government services.

12/08/99 Biggest taxpayers deserve break by Vicki Fox is another one-liner opposing progressive taxation.

12/05/99 Taking exception to the premise (scroll down) by Randy Sines of Oregon City includes the statement, "What you choose to call communal wealth is my tax burden." This sentence shows a considerable lack of a sense of civic and social responsibility. Sines makes it clear his is a belief in the inviolable premise of Darwinist capitalism. A similar line is taken in another letter at the same URL by Michael Trigoboff. These writers do not specifically address the Sizemore initiative, but are included here as examples of the values of the taxcutters who support Sizemore's agenda.

12/04/99 It isn't fair to charge a tax on income you can't keepis Sizemore's reply to The Oregonian editorial of 11/09/99 (see below). The title pretty much says it all for Size's argument. Exemptions for taxes are the only expenses which are unfairly limited, according to the tax-cutters; however, living expenses are also income we can't keep. For more rebuttal see the Don Quixote Society Website response of 12/13 (above).

11/25/99 Tax initiative would be taxing for most Oregonians by Kenneth Lewis originally appeared in The Oregonian but was not archived by Oregon Live. The essay is available at the above link to The Don Quixote Society Website with permission from the author. This essay is a MUST READ for anyone serious about understanding the inequities of the Sizemore initiative. The following is a sample of the information in the Lewis article:

Allowing full state deductibility of federal income taxes is unfair and regressive.

11/19/99 Sizemore looks out for taxpayers by Leesa Beadoin calls our attention to the editorial in The Oregonian titledThis isn't Sherwood Forest (11/09 below). Beaudoin thanks the paper for presenting the history of Bill Sizemore's Measures 5 and 47 as being tax reform in the interest of working people - even as Robin Hood took from the rich and gave to the poor. One can only guess what the writer is thinking from the following: "Now you expect voters to care whether you think we're rich or not? I couldn't care less what you think. Bring it on, Sizemore -- I can't wait to vote for your tax cut for the 'rich.'"

11/17/99 Let taxpayers keep more money Tom Wier of Yamhill replies to the "Sherwood Forest" editorial (11/09) boasting that he's rich & proud of it - and says he deserves a tax break.

11/09/99 ,This isn't Sherwood Forest is an editorial which appeared in The Oregonian. While the editor gives Size undeserved credit for M5 and M47 being tax cuts which benefitted the working class, the paper also declares the "double-taxation" initiative grounds for a "class war" in the 2000 election. The editor adds,"Oregon is one of only eight states that allow any deduction at all for federal taxes; only four allow the full deduction." This is also a MUST READ for understanding the downside of the Size initiative.

11/06/99 Governor too eager to raise taxesby State Sen Randy Miller includes the statement "State government doesn't need the money" This article is not specific to the federal tax exemption, but is included as relevant to the discussion of tax cutting in Oregon.
Also see Lawmakers cut taxes, defer pain by James Mayer in the August 15, 1999, The Oregonian. This informative item is about tax cutting and includes a remark by Sen. Miller defending tax cuts without specifying service cuts.

11/05/99 Easy to say no to higher taxes is by Ross Smith of Lincoln City, who responds to the news story of 10/25 (below) and bashes Gov. Kitzhaber's plans to fund schools and state programs and claims government is taking close to "one-half of everyone's paycheck in taxes."

10/25/99 Tax plans may crowd and confuse 2000 ballot By James Mayer of The Oregonian says, "Voters in next year's November election might have to decipher 10 proposals, changing taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars." This essay focuses on the clamor among Republican lawmakers and activists to gain favor as hard-line tax-cutters.

9/24/99 Group aims to defeat tax measure By James Mayer of The Oregonian describes the organization of public resistance to the frenetic tax-cutting proposals. Ken Lewis, former president of the Port of Portland, was joined by Secretary of State Phil Keisling, Multnomah County Chairwoman Bev Stein, Portland Schools Foundation Chairman Sho Dozono and others in denouncing the measure sponsored by Oregon Taxpayers United. These critics say the proposed initiative to allow the deduction of all federal taxes, if approved by voters, would cripple public services in Oregon.
The formation of this group, Oregonians for Fairness and Responsibility, is an especially important development in the campaign against irresponsible tax-cutting in Y2K.

7/16/99 House OKs tax cut ballot measure by James Mayer of The Oregonian describes the Oregon House passage of a referral to the voters of a measure increasing the exemption allowed for federal taxes; the Senate has voted a similar referral to raise the cap on such deductions as SB 535.

7/5/99 Ballot may decide how state would adjust taxes by James Mayer of The Oregonian headlines: "Ducking a potential veto, Republicans could take to voters capital gains and federal deduction changes."

5/22/99 Plans to cut taxes aren't likely to cut the mustard by James Mayer of The Oregonian describes the frenzy of tax-cutting gestures in the state senate. He writes,"A Senate panel approves about half a billion dollars of relief, but the deepest slash would probably come from the governor's veto."

4/16/99 Kitzhaber will speak about tax initiative by James Mayer of The Oregonian begins: "The governor plans a measure next year that will compete with one offered by Bill Sizemore, his erstwhile Republican rival." Although no specific proposals were announed, the article outlines the committment of Governor Kitzhaber to campaign for additional funding for schools heading into the Y2K election. The piece stresses the confrontation over taxes between the popular Democratic governor and Sizemore, who lost badly as a rival candidate for the governorship.