Bernie Sanders on Wednesday endorsed the Measure 97 corporate tax increase on the Oregon ballot.
The Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential candidate said in a statement that large corporations should “start paying their fair share of taxes” to help schools and other services.
Measure 97 would impose a 2.5 percent tax on sales by corporations with Oregon revenue of more than $25 million a year.
The move would bring an estimated $3 billion a year of new revenue, which the initiative says should be directed to state education, health care and senior services.
Sanders' statement of support was released during a Portland rally at the headquarters of the Yes on 97 campaign.
"At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it is time for large profitable corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes," Sanders said in the statement. He added:
"I think quality education, improved health care and the ability to retire in dignity are worth asking the biggest corporations and Wall Street to pay a little more. Please vote yes on Measure 97."
Sanders won the Oregon Democratic presidential primary, and has thousands of avid supporters in the state. He is seeking to organize them through a new group called Our Revolution.
Sanders has also endorsed other ballot measures around the country. He backs a single-payer health care measure in Colorado and a California initiative aimed at lowering prescription drug prices for state agencies.
Measure 97 is being financed by several public employee unions.
They've been out-raised by the opposition campaign, which is primarily funded by corporations that could be affected by the tax.
A central issue in the campaign is whether the tax increase would raise prices to Oregon consumers.
A statement from Pat McCormick, a spokesman for the opposition campaign, said it was "easy for Senator Sanders to tell Oregonians how to vote on a $6 billion dollar tax hike that won't affect him." McCormick added that Sanders would not face higher costs, either as a business owner or consumer.