Sockeye Blog

Yesterday morning, Republicans in the Oregon House and their allies in the corporate lobby held a hearing on several bills that would lower taxes on capital gains, which would be a windfall for large corporations and the rich.

One of the bills, HB 3050, would create a special half-off deal for taxes on capital gains—the wealth that’s accumulated when someone sells stocks or shares in a business.

Yesterday morning, Republicans in the Oregon House and their allies in the corporate lobby held a hearing on several bills that would lower taxes on capital gains, which would be a windfall for large corporations and the rich.

One of the bills, HB 3050, would create a special half-off deal for taxes on capital gains—the wealth that’s accumulated when someone sells stocks or shares in a business.

So, while the rest of us pay about 9% on most of our income, stock market speculators would pay half that rate.  In other words, the rich would get preferential tax treatment, while middle-class families and small businesses pick up the tab.

At a time when corporations are making record profits, but the state is struggling just to keep our schools open, we have to ask: What would this great bargain for the rich cost our schools and critical services?

According to our estimates (based on projections compiled by the Legislative Revenue Office) HB 3050 would cost the state around $2.25 billion between now and 2017. That’s the equivalent of cutting 148 days of school over the next seven years.

And for what conceivable benefit? The proponents of the bills claim that Oregon’s tax rates send a flood of rich people and companies to Washington, but they offer no evidence.  The corporate lobbyists—including lobbyists from Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon Business Council, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and Public Affairs Council (Mark Nelson’s firm)--didn’t present a single estimate of the number of jobs that would be created, nor any evidence of companies who would move here if only our capital gains tax rates were lower.

In fact, several of the lobbyists gave examples of business owners in the state who regularly bought and sold businesses despite the capital gains tax—completely undercutting their own argument.

The bottom line: These are the same lobbyists making the same arguments they made during the Measures 66 and 67 campaign. They were wrong then, and they’re wrong now.

These lobbyists—now operating under the name of “The Oregon Committee”—claimed then that businesses and rich people would flee the state if the measures passed, but the exact opposite happened. Scores of businesses have moved or expanded in Oregon since 2009. Our employment figures have improved remarkably. And venture capital into startup companies has surged.

So, the corporate lobbyists backing these special tax breaks for the rich either a.) don’t know what they’re talking about, or b.) are simply trying to scaremonger their way into special tax breaks.

What can you do? Email the Co-Chairs of the House Revenue Committee and tell them that we shouldn't be giving more tax breaks to corporations and the rich when we're struggling just to keep our schools open and our seniors healthy. The Co-Chairs are Rep. Phil Barnhart (D-Central Lane and Linn Counties), who has worked to hold the line on tax credits, and Rep. Vicki Berger (R-Salem).

Co-Chair Phil Barnhart: rep.philbarnhart@state.or.us
Co-Chair Vicki Berger: rep.vickiberger@state.or.us

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Tonight the Wisconsin Senate Republicans decided to ignore the will of the voters and the democratic process by ramming through their bill attacking working families. Gov. Walker and the Republicans acted in violation of state open meetings laws, and tonight’s events have demonstrated they will do anything to pass their extreme agenda attacking Wisconsin’s middle class.

As they trampled open democracy, Walker and the GOP proved what we and others have been saying for weeks: This horrendous bill has nothing to do with budgetary needs. Their actions tonight and their naked abuse of power are an attempt to gut the middle class while filling the pockets of their corporate funders.

Tonight the Wisconsin Senate Republicans decided to ignore the will of the voters and the democratic process by ramming through their bill attacking working families. Gov. Walker and the Republicans acted in violation of state open meetings laws, and tonight’s events have demonstrated they will do anything to pass their extreme agenda attacking Wisconsin’s middle class.

As they trampled open democracy, Walker and the GOP proved what we and others have been saying for weeks: This horrendous bill has nothing to do with budgetary needs. Their actions tonight and their naked abuse of power are an attempt to gut the middle class while filling the pockets of their corporate funders.

It was not enough to take the wages and benefits of Wisconsin teachers, firefighters, home-care workers, nurses, and so many others, after years of balancing the budget on the backs of public servants. Nope, Scott Walker, the GOP, the Koch brothers and their cronies took away the people's right to join together and advocate for themselves.

"In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin," Wisconsin Democratic Senate leader Sen. Mark Miller said. "Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten."

This is a setback, but Walker has chosen to take on the people who teach Wisconsin's kids to read, who help seniors and people with disabilities live with dignity, and who keep their communities safe.

As polls have consistently shown, the public is firmly on the side of workers and the middle-class in this fight, not Walker and his corporate funders. Walker may have betrayed his voters tonight, but we have a feeling they'll make their voices heard against him and the Republican Senators who joined him in this sneak attack.


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We’ve been talking quite a bit about a conflict that is way over on the other side of the country – WI Governor Walker’s attack on public workers and his efforts to strip away their rights.

But here at Our Oregon, we really like teachers, policemen, firefighters, and all the other public employees who work on the frontline to protect our state and its people.  And as it turns out, we’re really—REALLY—not alone. Poll after poll shows public support for Wisconsin’s teachers and state employees, and strong resistance to the anti-worker agenda launched by Walker and his rich corporate financiers.

Some highlights: 

•    A majority of the American public supports public employee bargaining rights.

•    A majority thinks that union busting is not the solution to the budget downfall.

•    And it turns out that people think Governor Walker is wrong.

We’ve been talking quite a bit about a conflict that is way over on the other side of the country – WI Governor Walker’s attack on public workers and his efforts to strip away their rights.

But here at Our Oregon, we really like teachers, policemen, firefighters, and all the other public employees who work on the frontline to protect our state and its people.  And as it turns out, we’re really—REALLY—not alone. Poll after poll shows public support for Wisconsin’s teachers and state employees, and strong resistance to the anti-worker agenda launched by Walker and his rich corporate financiers.

Some highlights: 

•    A majority of the American public supports public employee bargaining rights.

•    A majority thinks that union busting is not the solution to the budget downfall.

•    And it turns out that people think Governor Walker is wrong.

Joe Conason, journalist and political commentator, provides a nice overview of the polls over the past few weeks:

Asking about the struggle in Wisconsin, the Pew researchers found that 42 percent stood with the unions versus only 31 percent who sided with Walker. The CBS News/New York Times poll was considerably stronger, with 60 percent supporting the right of public employees to bargain collectively and only 33 percent in opposition; those numbers closely matched an earlier Gallup Poll that showed 61 percent supporting labor against the governor.

And again, in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, only 33 percent says that it is "acceptable" to abolish those rights as a supposed way to address state and local budget deficits. Just under twice as many -- 62 percent -- says that eliminating those rights is "unacceptable."

...

Actually, the vigorous resistance to Walker appears not to have damaged the union cause at all, but to have drawn attention to the gross partisan over-reaching of the Republican governor and his corporate friends. In Wisconsin, many voters are now expressing buyer's remorse over their choice of Walker, and tell pollsters they are evenly divided over whether to recall him. (Emphasis added)

Governor Walker may be itching to pay back his corporate funders by blaming public employees for the current recession, but the public isn’t falling for it.

As the polls keep rolling in, will Walker acknowledge the simple truth—that he is on the wrong side of this fight? Maybe, maybe not, but email exchanges released by the Governor’s office this week show that Walker is backing ever so slightly away from his original plan. But even his “compromise” takes major rights away from workers, leading the Democratic leadership to say “thanks, but no thanks.”

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Like nearly every other state in the nation, Oregon is facing a budget caused by the economic recession.  The potential results have been splashed across newspaper front pages: cuts to schools, massive layoffs of frontline workers, and the loss of basic, critical services that protect the most vulnerable.

But there’s one area of the budget that has received almost no attention: The $7.5 billion the state spends with private, outside contractors on services and supplies, like phone and internet providers, office rent, travel, office supplies, and other items required for day-to-day operations.

An interesting report came across our desks last week. SEIU Local 503 asked state workers—the people who see government business day to day--what they thought about state spending. Those frontline workers had the same recommendation over and over: take a hard look at state money spent on services and supplies through vendor contracts.

Like nearly every other state in the nation, Oregon is facing a budget caused by the economic recession.  The potential results have been splashed across newspaper front pages: cuts to schools, massive layoffs of frontline workers, and the loss of basic, critical services that protect the most vulnerable.

But there’s one area of the budget that has received almost no attention: The $7.5 billion the state spends with private, outside contractors on services and supplies, like phone and internet providers, office rent, travel, office supplies, and other items required for day-to-day operations.

An interesting report came across our desks last week. SEIU Local 503 asked state workers—the people who see government business day to day--what they thought about state spending. Those frontline workers had the same recommendation over and over: take a hard look at state money spent on services and supplies through vendor contracts.

No one would suggest that the general category of expenses is unnecessary. But, while education and human services are burdened with taking cuts in order to balance the budget, there has yet to be a proposal on reducing expenses on service and supply contracts. In fact, the budget for services and supplies has expanded since 2007, even while other programs have been cut.

Remember that our schools and human services are facing deep cuts—as much as 40% in some areas. Now check out this chart, which shows what we’d save through cuts to private contractors for state services and supplies, per biennium.

 

General Fund Savings

 Total Funds Savings

5% reduction 

$53,615,184

$373,852,003

10% reduction

$107,230,367

$747,704,006

15% reduction 

$160,845,551

$1,121,556,009

20% reduction

$214,460,734

$1,495,408,012

Keep in mind that the budget deficit for the biennium is $3.5 billion. You can see that just a 5% reduction would save over $373 million – that’s 10% of the total budget deficit!

Now, we’re not talking about $10,000 toilet seats. But we are talking about looking at service providers who win big state contracts. If teachers and home-care workers are being asked to give up big chunks of their pay, shouldn’t we ask Verizon and Georgia-Pacific to make the same sacrifice?

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Let's face it, the news today can be downright depressing. It's important to remember that things aren't all bad--in fact, there are some really great things happening around us all the time. With that, Our Oregon is launching a weekly series to highlight some of our favorite bits of news from the week. Introducing, The Bright Side of Life.


Let's face it, the news today can be downright depressing. It's important to remember that things aren't all bad--in fact, there are some really great things happening around us all the time. With that, Our Oregon is launching a weekly series to highlight some of our favorite bits of news from the week. Introducing, The Bright Side of Life.

This week's edition:

1. The Library
We love the library. And they're boldly entering the 21st Century!
(Even though these are specific to Multnomah County Libraries, you can still text a librarian or get book recommendations from anywhere!)

  • You can download three free Sony Music songs from the library each week!
  • You can text a librarian at any time of the day or night and get an answer to any question you ask... within TEN MINUTES. Just text the word "multcolib" and your question 66746 and they'll shoot you an answer.
  • If you're looking for a good book, you can fill out this form with the names of three books you like and a librarian will respond personally to give you great recommendations.

 

2. Monty Python video

3. Mark Zuckerberg was in Portland this weekend!
OMG LOLZ. I saw him walking up Burnside. What brought him here, you ask? Some say he was buying a condo in the Pearl. Some say he was buying a dog. Some say he was buying the whole city, just 'cause he can.

4. Trimet plays matchmaker.
Trimet collected stories of love for Valentine's Day -- people who connected on public transportation. Cuuuuuuute.

5. 10,000 boxes of cookies pile high on a "slow day" in the Tigard Girl Scout cookie factory.
YUM.

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After a couple of dark years, Oregon is finally beginning to emerge from the recession. January marked the fourth straight month of job growth and an unemployment rate of 10.4%. While that's still higher than the national average, it's much better than where Oregon was two years ago.

As we climb out of the recession, corporate lobbyists and Republicans in the Oregon legislature want Oregon taxpayers to pay businesses to hire people and are calling it a "jobs bill." This bill would offer $3,000 tax credits for each new job that businesses create in Oregon.

From Oregon Business Magazine: "Rep Tobias Read (D-Beaverton), co-chair of the transportation and economic development committee, says the program would be ripe for abuse. 'The problem is, you can't ever tell whether you are unnecessarily subsidizing something that would have happened anyhow.'"

In other words, it'd be a taxpayer handout to corporations without any accountability or assurance that it's actually working.

After a couple of dark years, Oregon is finally beginning to emerge from the recession. January marked the fourth straight month of job growth and an unemployment rate of 10.4%. While that's still higher than the national average, it's much better than where Oregon was two years ago.

As we climb out of the recession, corporate lobbyists and Republicans in the Oregon legislature want Oregon taxpayers to pay businesses to hire people and are calling it a "jobs bill." This bill would offer $3,000 tax credits for each new job that businesses create in Oregon.

From Oregon Business Magazine: "Rep Tobias Read (D-Beaverton), co-chair of the transportation and economic development committee, says the program would be ripe for abuse. 'The problem is, you can't ever tell whether you are unnecessarily subsidizing something that would have happened anyhow.'"

In other words, it'd be a taxpayer handout to corporations without any accountability or assurance that it's actually working.

In January, three Oregon industries added at least 1,000 more jobs than normally expected for this time of year, including educational and health services, hospitality, and manufacturing (food manufacturing has gained 3,000 jobs in the last 12 months). Overall, Oregon gained 6,300 jobs in the first month of 2011. Oregon is climbing out of the recession -- and when businesses create jobs, they'll do it for that reason, not because we give them a tax break instead of spending money on schools and critical services.

A few critical questions: Would this just be subsidizing something that business owners would be doing anyway? If a business is seeing an increase in demand that justifies new hiring, why does the state need to pay them for it? Conversely, if demand for a business's services is still too low to justify hiring on their own, is $3,000 going to make any difference?

Some quick math:

A worker at $8.50 an hour (Oregon's minimum wage), 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year earns $17,680. $3,000 is 16% of that person's wages -- not including workers' compensation insurance or any health benefits.

I don't know about you, but if the state offered me less than one fifth of what I would pay my lowest paid employees to create a job, it wouldn't be worth it unless I was going to be hiring for that position anyway.

Corporations across the country are making record profits, though they've been slow to add new jobs--in the US, at least. Hopefully, Oregon businesses will begin to add new jobs as the economy recovers. But while we're struggling to keep our schools open, should we be giving away more tax breaks to businesses? If they're going to hire people, they'll do it because the economy is growing, not because we give them $3,000.

"Jobs bill gets little support in Salem"--Oregon Business Magazine 

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A new national poll shows what many other polls before it have shown: Voters really, really, really don’t want to see cuts to schools and critical health services.

The poll, conducted by Republican Bill McInturff and Democrat Peter D. Hart, shows that more than 60 percent of those polled are worried that the budget cuts proposed by Congressional Republicans could impact their lives and their families.

A new national poll shows what many other polls before it have shown: Voters really, really, really don’t want to see cuts to schools and critical health services.

The poll, conducted by Republican Bill McInturff and Democrat Peter D. Hart, shows that more than 60 percent of those polled are worried that the budget cuts proposed by Congressional Republicans could impact their lives and their families.

McInturff said that the poll results should be a warning to Republican lawmakers who are listening to the right-wing fringe rather than mainstream voters.

“It may be hard to understand why a person might jump off a cliff, unless you understand they’re being chased by a tiger,” he said. “That tiger is the Tea Party.”

In Oregon, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that voters oppose cuts to schools and critical services. Parents and community members around the state are—right now—standing up against cuts to their local schools.

More than 80 Dilley, Gales Creek parents rally in opposition of closing, consolidating the schools--Oregonian
"More than 80 Gales Creek and Dilley Elementary parents and supporters rallied in support of keeping them open at a meeting Wednesday to discuss closing or consolidating the small rural schools. The meeting was the product of a community summit subgroupassigned to study the cost-saving potential of closing one or both of the schools. The subgroup is also considering the possibility of closing the district office and relocating administrators into one or more school buildings to save money."

Lake Oswego School District committee continues planning for school closures; parents urge board to scale back plans--Oregonian
"As a citizens advisory committee presented a tentative, narrowed-down list of schools that may shut down next year in the Lake Oswego School District, a few parents urged the school board to close one school, instead of three. A committee of community members charged to recommend schools for closure have recently decided to further examine configurations that could close either Oak Creek or Uplands Elementary Schools on the north side of the district, while either River Grove and Palisades is shut down on the south side. The board wants the group to choose a school from each side for potential closure."

 

In the midst of this budget crisis, it all comes down to our priorities. What’s more important to us as a state—protecting our classrooms and ensuring that students are prepared for the future, or protecting tax breaks and giveaways for corporations? What priorities will lawmakers protect?

What are your priorities? Our online budget puzzle, which puts you in the driver's seat of Oregon's budget crisis, is available at OregonBudgetPriorities.com. Haven't tried it yet? Now's the time to check it out!

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After nearly two days of criticism, KGW Executive News Director Rod Gramer today issued a sweeping correction and apology for the one-sided anti-tax story they ran on Monday.

We really encourage you to take the time to read it. It’s a thoughtful, sincere and thorough response, coupled with additional reporting on the story by Gramer himself. It’s truly a remarkable correction.

Here’s part of the response:

After nearly two days of criticism, KGW Executive News Director Rod Gramer today issued a sweeping correction and apology for the one-sided anti-tax story they ran on Monday.

We really encourage you to take the time to read it. It’s a thoughtful, sincere and thorough response, coupled with additional reporting on the story by Gramer himself. It’s truly a remarkable correction.

Here’s part of the response:

“The story we did this week did not live up to our high standards of balanced, fair and in-depth journalism. The story did not dig deep enough, it relied on anecdotal information from Washington realtors and, most serious of all, it did not contain the views of those who support Measures 66 and 67 and refute the assertion that companies and people are moving out of state because of the higher personal and corporate taxes.

“For those shortcomings I apologize and take responsibility.”

All news outlets make the occasional mistake. We should take the time to recognize those who promptly and properly address those errors and issue corrections, as KGW did this morning.

Earlier in the week, we asked you to contact Gramer and demand better from his news station. Now, we’d ask you to send a note to Gramer thanking him for taking the criticism seriously, responding personally, and doing such a complete job to provide the whole story. Send a note to rgramer@kgw.com.

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Yesterday, we broke apart the terrible, inaccurate story from KGW that claimed Oregonians were fleeing to Vancouver to avoid paying taxes.

Shortly after we posted our story, KGW took the remarkable step of taking down the video of the report and editing the online story to make it sound less like they were parroting the talking points of right-wing anti-tax lobbyists. There’s now an editor’s note that says: “The original earlier version of this story failed to properly attribute statements to Oregon anti-tax activist Jason Williams.”

Usually when reporters get a story wrong, they issue a correction and move on; why didn't KGW just do that? In their case, it’s more like they’re trying to revise history. Here are some side-by-side comparisons that show just how much the story parroted Jason Williams’ blog post:

Yesterday, we broke apart the terrible, inaccurate story from KGW that claimed Oregonians were fleeing to Vancouver to avoid paying taxes.

Shortly after we posted our story, KGW took the remarkable step of taking down the video of the report and editing the online story to make it sound less like they were parroting the talking points of right-wing anti-tax lobbyists. There’s now an editor’s note that says: “The original earlier version of this story failed to properly attribute statements to Oregon anti-tax activist Jason Williams.”

Usually when reporters get a story wrong, they issue a correction and move on; why didn't KGW just do that? In their case, it’s more like they’re trying to revise history. Here are some side-by-side comparisons that show just how much the story parroted Jason Williams’ blog post:

Original title: “More Oregon taxpayers moving to Washington state”

New title (24 hours after the story aired): "Activist says Oregonians moving to WA for tax relief"

Original intro from Joe Smith: “How do you spell relief—tax relief? More and more people from Oregon are spelling it N-O-R-T-H, as in moving north to Washington. With no income tax and lower home prices, the Evergreen State is becoming a haven for Oregonians, rather than pay some of the highest taxes in the country.”

New intro to the online story (24 hours after the story aired): “More people from Oregon are moving north to Washington and it might not be for the weather. The Evergreen State, which has no income tax and lower home prices, is becoming a haven for Oregonians, according to a tax activist who says it's because of taxes.”

And the new version also omits definitive comments made by both anchor Tracy Barry and reporter Joe Smith that “the move is on.”

In the interest of posterity, we now provide you (below) with a screenshot and full transcript of the original story.

For the time being, you can also still catch the video here.

Video Transcript:

Intro:

Tracy Barry: The move is on to Clark County. The big question is what’s driving the growth? That tops tonight’s Your Money.

Laurel Porter: Here’s News Channel 8’s Business Reporter Joe Smith

Joe Smith: Good evening, Laurel and Tracy. How do you spell relief—tax relief? More and more people from Oregon are spelling it N-O-R-T-H, as in moving north to Washington. With no income tax and lower home prices, the Evergreen State is becoming a haven for Oregonians, rather than pay some of the highest taxes in the country.

Report:

Joe Smith: There appears to be an exodus in progress from Oregon to Washington.

Jason Williams: Portland taxpayers are not flooding into Vancouver for the weather. They’re going there because of their low taxes…

Joe Smith: Jason Williams, a taxpayer activist, says Oregon has one of the highest personal income tax rates in the country, 11% on earnings over $250,000. The move is on.

Jason Williams: There really is thousands and thousands of people coming from Oregon into Vancouver. And they’re going there, buying homes, setting up families, and escaping the high taxes of Oregon.

Joe Smith: In 2010, the Washington Office of Licensing reported some 15,000 residents moved to Clark County, most from Oregon.  That’s up nearly 3,000 from the year before.

Mike Lamb: It’s sort of a natural. I think you could call them tax refugees if you like. 

Joe Smith: Realtor Mike Lamb says the migration of some businesses and residents from Oregon into Washington has been taking place for some time. In the early 90s, it was for better schools. Now it’s taxes, mainly bringing in higher income people and retirees. Lower priced homes here are also a reason.

Mike Lamb: It helps provide buyers for properties here that we might not have otherwise.

Eric Fruits: Turns out that our predictions are coming true.

Joe Smith: According to economist Eric Fruits, Measures 66 and 67 passed in 2009, raising the personal and corporate income tax created higher unemployment, and now a shortfall in the amount of tax collected.

Eric Fruits: In other words, they’re collecting about 30% less than they originally anticipated.

Joe Smith: There is now talk of repealing 66 and 67 during this legislative session to curb the exodus and tax revolt.

Jason Williams: It’d be very difficult. Politicians never want to lose any money. But they’re losing money because people are leaving the state.

Outro:

Joe Smith: Oregon isn’t the only state losing population because of taxes. Californians were the second largest group to move to Southwest Oregon—or rather Southwest Washington last year.

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Last night, Portland news station KGW turned in an astonishingly bad, one-sided, and inaccurate “report that claimed that Oregon residents are leaving the state for Vancouver in order to avoid paying taxes.

(Update: KGW took down the video and posted an edited version of the story. You can still see the original video--for the time being--here.)

Reporter Joe Smith’s story was based on one shoddy blog post from an anti-tax lobbyist, along with an interview by a real estate broker. Not only was the story incorrect, but Smith didn’t even bother to talk to anyone from the other side. Usually, good reporters will work to include balance in their stories. Smith didn’t even bother to pick up the phone.

So, we’ll do what he and KGW failed to do, which is to provide the actual facts behind his bogus report. (The story, by the way, was based on a blog post by Jason Williams from the Taxpayers Association of Oregon, an anti-tax, pro-corporate lobbying group.)

Last night, Portland news station KGW turned in an astonishingly bad, one-sided, and inaccurate “report that claimed that Oregon residents are leaving the state for Vancouver in order to avoid paying taxes.

(Update: KGW took down the video and posted an edited version of the story. You can still see the original video--for the time being--here.)

Reporter Joe Smith’s story was based on one shoddy blog post from an anti-tax lobbyist, along with an interview by a real estate broker. Not only was the story incorrect, but Smith didn’t even bother to talk to anyone from the other side. Usually, good reporters will work to include balance in their stories. Smith didn’t even bother to pick up the phone.

So, we’ll do what he and KGW failed to do, which is to provide the actual facts behind his bogus report. (The story, by the way, was based on a blog post by Jason Williams from the Taxpayers Association of Oregon, an anti-tax, pro-corporate lobbying group.)

Bogus Claim: Three thousand more Oregonians have moved to Washington to avoid paying taxes under Measures 66 and 67.

FACT: This “report” is based entirely on unreliable data: driver’s license applications. It’s true that the Washington Office of Licensing showed an increase in 2010 of people trading in their Oregon driver’s licenses for Washington licenses—an increase of 1,332 in Clark County.

But here’s the catch: In July 2010, the Washington State Patrol reinstated its License Investigation Unit, which started cracking down on Washington residents who hold out of state (mostly Oregon) licenses in order to avoid paying sales taxes. The data is clear—from July to October (the period when the enforcement began), 2,823 more people than average changed their driver’s licenses.

In other words, the data that KGW relied on was the result of a state trooper crackdown on Washington scofflaws, not people moving to Vancouver to avoid taxes. This basic fact refutes all of KGW’s reporting.

FACT: While Clark County is growing, there is no evidence to suggest that the rate of growth is being driven by a tax increase that doesn’t affect 97.5% of Oregonians. Is it possible that a few millionaires moved across the river to protect their income? Maybe. But none were found for this KGW story, which repeats an unsubstantiated, ideological claim from people still fighting Measures 66 and 67.

KGW never looked at the other side of the coin--how many people moved TO Oregon. In fact, all three counties in the Portland metro area (Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas) continue to increase in population.

FACT: Clark County’s unemployment rate has continued to hover around 13%, much higher than Multnomah County’s 9.3%.

Given that many Clark County residents continue to work in Multnomah County, they’re still paying income taxes in Oregon, which would make for a very poor tax avoidance strategy.

FACT: If any businesses are moving to Washington, they’re paying far more in taxes than in Oregon. Washington’s gross receipts tax is nearly five times higher than Oregon’s corporate minimum tax.

Washington’s overall business tax burden is the 14th highest in the nation. Oregon’s is the second lowest.

Bogus Claim: “Measures 66 and 67 passed in 2009, raising the personal and corporate income tax created higher unemployment and now a shortfall in the amount of tax collected.”

FACT: Unemployment has dropped nearly two full percentage points since 2009. Oregon’s unemployment rate reached its peak in May 2009 at 12.2%. Today, more than a year after voters approved Measures 66 and 67, the rate is 10.4%.

Many corporate sectors are now generating record profits, and scores of businesses continue to announce that they are moving to or expanding here in the state. (See www.oregonopenforbiz.org for a partial list.)

True, Measure 66 has brought in a bit less money than state economists originally predicted, but that’s because of the economic recession. Given the state’s current budget crisis, a better question for earnest reporting might be whether Oregon can still afford to have the second lowest corporate taxes in the country while struggling to fund our schools and critical services.

It’s clear that Joe Smith’s reporting on this story was not up to KGW’s standards, nor the standards of ethical journalism anywhere. It used unsubstantiated, bogus data, and simply regurgitated a blog post from an anti-tax lobbyist. Worse, they didn’t include a single opposing voice.

We urge you to call or email KGW’s News Director, Rod Gramer, at 503-226-5000 or rgramer@kgw.com and tell him you expect balance and accuracy from his news department, not just anti-tax propaganda.

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