Oregon Voters Reject Tax-Raising Measure 97

By Kristian Foden-Vencil (OPB) and Henry Leasia (OPB)
Portland, Oregon Nov. 9, 2016 4:15 a.m.

2016 Measure 97 Results by County


Measure 97, the largest  proposed tax increase in Oregon history, has failed.

The gross receipt tax would have generated $6 billion every two years from corporations that do more than $25 million in Oregon sales annually.


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Its failure means that instead of receiving $6 billion more over the next budget cycle, Oregon lawmakers now face a $1.4 billion deficit for the next two years.

The tax measure was the brainchild of a progressive coalition led by labor unions. They presented it to voters as a response to years of budget uncertainty and lack of legislative action.

The measure campaign's main focus was on education. Oregon ranks near the bottom nationally in graduation rates. Class sizes remain relatively high and the school year is short. It’s been that way since voters approved the Measure 5 property tax cap back in 1990.

Proponents of Measure 97 say there’s plenty of evidence that Oregon's education system needs more money. But opponents say Oregon’s education system is not that bad. They point to another report by the National Education Association that ranks Oregon 23rd in the nation.

Gov. Kate Brown, who won her own election, was dealt a blow in the defeat of Measure 97, which she had supported. Brown said she expects proponents and opponents come to the table to "tackle the  revenue challenges facing Oregon."

"I think there's general agreement that we need additional revenue on the table for key basic services," she said. "And I think there's agreement that we want to make sure that there's fairness in the tax system."

Rebecca Tweed, the statewide campaign director for the no on 97 campaign, said the coalition of businesses and other opponents were pleased with voters' decision.

"They made the right choice in defeating this $6 billion tax on sales," she said.

The Measure 97 campaign has been the costliest and one of the most heated in state history. Proponents included labor unions and a host of Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Kate Brown. Opponents included businesses and business groups and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bud Pierce.

How Oregon Dungeness crab make the journey from sea to table.