Oregonians agree: No new taxes during this recession
New year, same troubling story.
Thousands of Oregonians remain unemployed, businesses shuttered, and family incomes unstable. The public health impacts from COVID-19 top most Oregonians’ list of concerns. And even with a vaccine beginning to roll out, the end of the pandemic is likely many months away.
In a statewide survey conducted earlier this month, commissioned by the OBI Foundation, Oregonians made their priorities for the 2021 Legislature very clear.
This is not the session for broad political wish lists, from either side of the aisle.
The poll showed that 54% of Oregonians – and majorities of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and unaffiliated voters – want the Legislature to focus on priority issues like the two-year state budget and short-term economic assistance for struggling Oregonians. Other issues should be held off for a different time.
Nearly two-thirds said the Legislature should put a pause on enacting any new taxes and non-critical regulations on businesses struggling to recover from the economic devastation of the pandemic. With government-mandated shutdowns still impacting the economy, new taxes on businesses defies common sense.
Employers across Oregon are struggling to keep their employees on the payroll, and they need legislators to understand that a speedy economic recovery will be slowed – and potentially stopped – by adding to their tax burden, which we know has gone up significantly in recent years. Fortunately, Oregonians agree: When told that business taxes have increased by more than 40% since 2019, 73% oppose tax hikes.
Unsurprisingly, tax increases are not popular with Oregonians right now. A full 76% oppose increasing taxes on Oregon households and 62% oppose taking away the tax benefits of the federal CARES Act, which we know is helping thousands of small businesses keep needed cash in their pockets right now.
OBI develops a public policy agenda every year, reflecting the priorities of our business members across the state. We do public opinion polls like this one to check on whether our views align with voters or not. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. This year, possibly more than ever before, Oregon voters and OBI members are on the same page: If Oregon is going to achieve a strong and equitable recovery, we need to get this pandemic under control and find ways to work together to help our struggling economy. With the public barred from the Capitol building and the entire legislative process disrupted by COVID-19, it is critical that legislators focus on the immediate and basic needs of Oregonians.
We cannot let our political agendas distract us from the most important task at hand: Economic recovery. Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians are depending on the Legislature to listen.