Measure 26-218

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - On this November's ballot, Portlanders will be making decisions about several new taxes, including one to fund new safety measures across the metro area's biggest corridors.

Supporters say the tax would be funded by implementing a payroll tax on the largest corporations in the area, but others say ultimately, it's the employees who would pay. FOX 12 spoke to people on both sides of the argument regarding Measure 26-218.

The measure, proposed by Metro, is known as Let's Get Going 2020. Metro says if passed, the tax would fund a new light rail, a bus network, and improvements to sidewalk and traffic safety.

"What we’re going to see from that are enhanced crosswalks, more street lighting, safety calming measures," Jess Thompson, executive director with Oregon Walks, said.

Metro hopes that Let's Get Going 2020 will help raise more then five billion dollars for its proposed projects.

"We don’t have a sales tax, we have crumbling infrastructure," Thompson said. "We need to invest in these kinds of improvements so that their employees do want to stay in the Pacific Northwest."

Supporters say that money will come from just nine percent of businesses in the metro area. The proposed tax would require companies with 26 employees or more to pay up to .75 of their total payroll.

"We worked really hard in crafting this measure to make sure that it’s a payroll tax that just a small number of businesses are actually going to be paying into," Thompson said. "It’s the largest corporations in the Metro area."

But opponents say that's not actually how it would work out.

"There’s a lot of economic evidence that says it doesn’t matter who legally has to pay it, the people who ultimately pay it are the workers themselves," Eric Fruits, vice president of research at Cascade Policy Institute, said.

Fruits is on the board of the Taxpayers Association of Oregon, a group that says it acts as a watchdog for the state and protects taxpayers.

Fruit says that projects like a light rail from Portland to Bridgeport Mall and improvements on busy highways won't actually help congestion and traffic.

"There’s not much work on TV Highway to relieve that congestion," Fruit said. "It’s more about, in some ways, making congestion worse, because these so-called safety improvements are designed to hinder automobile traffic."

Metro says that's not the case and says improvements are needed to protect the communities most at risk.

"If this fails, we don’t get anything from it," Aaron Brown with Let's Get Moving 2020 said. "We get zero. There’s no traffic improvements, no safety measures. TV Highway, 82nd Avenue, McLoughlin, these streets and corridors that routinely kill and injure vulnerable Oregonians and will continue to do so."

Supporters say that the tax is going to force large corporations to pay their fair share to enjoy a vibrant community. But opponents say it could just end up driving businesses out of the metro area.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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(10) comments

Caracalla

Everyone should get to vote when it comes to voting for government positions but ballot measures should only be voted on by the employed, Vets, retired/seniors, or those on unemployment. You should have to be paying taxes to have a say in where taxes are spent. I believe Vet's and the retired/seniors earned the right even if not working.

lanquan

More taxes and NO accountability! Ridiculous!

Mr Q

Metro hopes that Let's Get Going 2020 will help raise more then five billion dollars for its proposed projects.......As of 2020, approximately 925,000 people worked in Metro’s jurisdiction. The estimated total revenue from the payroll tax is $250 million......so how is this going to equate to $5 Billion??? or is this a 20+ year timeline?

ItsPolitical

NOPE. This is the absolute WORST time to increase any taxes or create a new one! Instead of whining about the lack of a sales tax, create one...and, get rid of the income tax! Because our idiot elected officials shut down the economy and cater to those who choose NOT to work, relying on an income tax is just dumb, as it's completely dependent on those who are fortunate enough to still have a job. A sales tax would be smarter, as EVERYONE shops for food, clothing and other items. Stupid is as stupid does!!

Toothache

With the ongoing riots already running businesses and people out of Portland, let's add another reason to leave. The cesspool is beyond saving as long as liberals are running the show.

Caracalla

Unfortunately it will never change until we do away with the "non partisan" voting system in Oregon. That is the most importance factor for the dems to keep power. It's always dem vs dem in a vicious and endless cycle.

Frederick Fukov

This measure is absolute garbage, and it's true..anything coming from the liberals disguised as "Infrastructure" is absolutely intended to create more congestion in order to force people out of their cars, and on to mass transit. It's an epic fail that started with (self-exiled child molester) Neil Goldschmidt, and it's still a huge boondoggle today. Light rail has NEVER delivered on it's promises. Money that could have gone into actual infrastructure, has instead gone into Tri-Met, and into blocking surface street alternatives drivers used to be able to use to divert around traffic jams. The thing is, liberals are all about control, and about taking away our personal freedoms. If you people don't get that by now..you never will. If you vote for this measure, you're about as enlightened and intelligent as those who voted for the Arts Tax. Frankly, you're the same people who will also vote for a personal city income tax..that's how smart you are.

Clackakitty

No on more boondoggles/

nativepdx

We were told way back in the 80's that light rail would be self supporting and it never will be because buses are 100 times cheaper to run and maintain.

Jefferson

Five billion in feel-good projects resulting in more traffic congestion and more vagrant camps and more jobs leaving the area. Great idea, Metro. :)

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