For the climate: Tax on big Portland retailers will likely make November ballot

by DCG

redistribution

They tried this tactic in 2016 and voters rejected it. But they want your money so try, try again.

From Oregon LiveSupporters of an initiative to increase business taxes to pay for eco-related causes say they have gathered enough signatures to put it on Portland ballots this November.

If they earn a spot on the ballot, supporters of the Portland Just Energy Transition Initiative, officially called PDX 04, would likely ignite a fierce and expensive campaign against businesses that would pay the tax.

The tax would apply a 1 percent surcharge to all Portland sales by businesses with at least $1 billion in annual revenue, at least $500,000 of which must be made within city limits. Money raised would be set aside for eco-friendly building and energy projects and job training for women and people of color.

Supporters say the tax would raise about $30 million annually. Most groceries and medicines would be exempt.

If approved, Portland businesses would be taxed under a mechanism similar to the one proposed in Measure 97. Oregon voters soundly rejected that measure, which proposed a statewide tax on certain business’ income, in 2016 — but only after the most expensive ballot measure campaign in state history.

It’s likely supporters of PDX 04 have gathered enough signatures. During a press conference on the steps of City Hall, sponsors of the initiative announced Thursday that they have collected more than 60,000 signatures — far more than the 34,156 required to get on the ballot.

Proponents said they are prepared for a hard-fought campaign and expressed their confidence that Portland’s electorate will vote in their favor. “We can do this,” the Rev E.D. Mondaine, a chief sponsor of the initiative, said to a cheering crowd outside City Hall.

Campaign finance records show tax supporters have raised more than $110,000, with contributions of $25,000 each from the Sierra Club and Green Advocacy Project, a group led by Michael Kieschnick (who has ties to George Soros), a California entrepreneur whose companies give a percentage of their earnings to progressive causes.

Opposite them is the anti-tax contingent of Portland’s business community, which was able to unite against Measure 97. It was during that campaign that Portland businesses and residents contributed more than $5.3 million to the successful campaign against the tax.

A new business-oriented group called Keep Portland Affordable has emerged to fight PDX 04. Its spokesman, Rick Thomas, said Thursday that local consumers will pay higher prices at checkout if the tax passes. Portland leaders should instead work to address the housing and homelessness crisis, Thomas said.

Keep Portland Affordable has opened a fundraising committee, registered at the address of the Oregon Business Council, an advocacy group for Oregon’s biggest employers. The committee lists a single $40,000 contribution filed Monday from the campaign that spent more than $26 million to defeat Measure 97.

According to a commentary on Street Root News:

The NAACP’s Portland branch, Native American Youth and Family Center, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Portland 350 and Verde all back the measure. 

JoAnn Hardesty, the local NAACP president and a candidate for City Council, said the intention is to create a response to climate change that’s rooted in fairness. Hardesty said the measure would tax only the largest of Portland’s box stores, those with global retail sales of $1 billion or more and Portland revenue of at least $500,000 per year.”

DCG

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