The State of Oregon ranks 31st and falling in per capita spending on primary and secondary public education. Just recently the major town that I live near, Medford (population roughly 100,000) had to cut 4 million dollars out of their two year budget for schools. The result has been shorter class days in school, teacher layoffs and courses in arts and other subjects cut out completely. Other local school districts have been cut to the bone. Another nine million might be cut soon if the voters don't approve two Measures on the January ballot.
In an effort to shore up the schools, the Democratic controlled state legislature passed initiatives to end the ten dollar a year minimum that corporations pay to the state. Now it will go up for most corporations to 150 dollars a year. Incredibly some million dollar corporations have paid only ten dollars a year even today. (The original "tax" was set in 1931!)
In case you're wondering if businesses in Oregon are already paying lots of money to government in taxes, consider this report from the Willamette Weekly Newspaper (Salem, Oregon).
"In a 2008 national study of corporate taxes, the Ernst & Young auditing firm found that the largest chunk of taxes businesses pay is property tax, followed by sales taxes. Corporate income tax was a distant third. In Oregon, businesses pay moderate property taxes, no sales tax and a middling corporate income tax rate, all of which make their overall tax burden among the lowest in the nation. Ernst & Young found that Oregon’s tax burden on businesses is the second lowest in the country. Critics of 67 dispute the Ernst & Young study. “We think the methodology is wrong and it leaves out some things,” says Pat McCormick, a spokesman for the “no” side. It’s worth noting the Legislative Revenue Office was comfortable enough with the Ernst & Young study to have relied on it in its November analysis of the tax measures."
Even a company making $500,000 in Oregon sales would still only pay $150 dollars a year in taxes!
The income of those making 125,000 dollars as a single person and 250,000 dollars a family will also rise slightly. The vast majority of the extra funds will go to education, health services, and public safety. Yet, there is a movement amongst business groups to try and defeat even these modest increases in the long-term good of the state. On January 26, the votes in the mail-in ballot election will be counted and we will find out if their trickle-down arguments carry the day or if more teachers will be laid off and more children will do without a quality education when they need it most in a globalized economy.
If you know of similar initiatives in your state or country, I'd like you to ad your thoughts to the matter of decent public education funding. Here's' the nuts and bolts of the initiatives, from "The Oregonian" Newspaper, published in Portland:
Sets new tax brackets: 10.8 percent for taxable income between $250,000 and $500,000 for joint or household filers, and between $125,000 and $250,000 for single filers; 11 percent rate for income of more than $500,000 for joint filers and $250,000 for single filers. In 2012, top tax rate drops to 9.9 percent.
Phases out federal tax subtraction for adjusted gross income of $250,000 or more for joint filers and $125,000 for single filers.
Exempts first $2,400 of unemployment benefits from 2009 taxes.
Raises an estimated $469 million in 2009-11.
Sets higher corporate minimum taxes: $150 for S corporations and partnerships; sliding scale for C corporations, ranging from $150 for corporations with less than $500,000 in Oregon sales up to $100,000 for sales of more than $100 million.
Sets new corporate tax bracket: 7.9 percent for profits of more than $250,000 for 2009-10, 7.6 percent for 2011-12.
Raises an estimated $258 million in 2009-11.
Its worth noting that many states adopted a state income tax during the Great Depression, including Oregon, to try and pay for needed services. This is not a radical move, and that that so far looks like it just might pass depending on undecided voters.