MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - Multnomah County voters have said they want to offer free pre-kindergarten to anyone who needs it. The ballot measure passed Tuesday night.
While proponents cheer, those worried about increasing taxes say this would put Multnomah County at the top of the highest income tax rate in the country.
Those behind the idea say it is a wise investment to make now. Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson says investing in kids at a young age helps put them on the right path when it comes to education. She says in the long run, it will benefit the community and pay dividends down the road.
“I think it means that Multnomah County voters understand that these investments that we are making in the future for our kids pay off in dividends for all of us as a community, and they have generational benefits that are going to change the trajectory of lives,” Vega Pederson said.
The free pre-K idea will take about 18 months to roll out and is set to launch in the fall of 2022. The new tax will range from 1.5 percent to 3 percent for households that make over $200,000. Proponents estimate that 94 percent of filers in Multnomah County are exempt from this tax.
The non-profit State Tax Research Institute did a study that showed if the tax passed, Multnomah County would have the highest income tax rate in the country at 14.6 percent. That figure and standing are only true if the tax is collected at the 3 percent rate.
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