PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon has set aside its history of shooting down tax increases on statewide ballots, with voters endorsing higher taxes amid a brutal economic slump.
Democrats in the Oregon Legislature made it as easy as they could for the voters to raise taxes on somebody else, and the electorate responded Tuesday by approving Measures 66 and 67.
The increases approved Tuesday will hit people with taxable income upward of $125,000 — estimated at fewer than 3 percent of filers. Many businesses who had been paying an annual $10 minimum will see that rise to at least $150.
With 91 percent of the vote counted, the vote was 54-46 on Measure 66 and 53-47 on Measure 67.
Oregon voters have consistently rebuffed legislative attempts to take more in tax revenue — such as a cigarette tax to pay for health insurance for children three years ago, two previous income tax measures that would have hit most Oregonians and nine sales tax measures over the decades.
A Democratic legislative leader, Senate President Peter Courtney, said he was, just in case, preparing a statement acknowledging defeat just before the results were reported Tuesday.
"This is a tax vote?" he exclaimed later when the victory was evident. "This is indescribable ... It's Oregon being Oregon."
The vote affirms the two-year budget the Legislature controlled by Democrats adopted last year, and spares it $727 million worth of budget cutting during a four-week session that begins Monday.