This month, the Oregon legislature reconvened to discuss a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall.  Unfortunately, now Governor Kulongoski and Oregon legislators are pondering $2 billion in taxes hikes on gas, cigarettes, health care providers, and corporations, and another $1 billion in additional spending – the same spending that caused the state’s current budget crunch.  In fact, Oregon has increased spending by a staggering 22.6% since 2003 alone.

Oregon residents take action now!  Click here to write your state legislators and governor and tell them that tax hikes will do more to slam families, consumers and businesses than they will to recitify the state’s budget woes.

ATR and the Taxpayers Association of Oregon sent a letter to all Oregon lawmakers and the governor urging them to oppose tax hikes to solve the state’s massive overspending problem.  The joint letter is below. 

Dear Members of the Oregon Legislature,
As Oregon faces serious budgetary challenges, it is critical now more than ever to oppose attempts to increase taxes. In the face of a slowing economy, tax hikes will hit hardworking Oregon families, consumers, and businesses the hardest and further diminish the state’s economic growth.
Oregon’s current budget crisis was not caused by taxes being too low. The budget crisis was caused by a slowing economy combined with unsustainably high government spending. Oregon has increased spending by a staggering 22.6% since 2003. Now the state faces an estimated $2 billion budget shortfall over the next biennium. Excessive spending caused this problem and spending restraint – not tax increases – is the solution.
Nevertheless, Governor Kulongoski has proposed a budget that contains a staggering $2 billion in tax and fee increases. Furthermore, the governor’s budget contains a $1 billion increase in year-to-year expenditures – the very type of spending that started the current crisis. Unfortunately, these proposed tax hikes on gas, cigarette consumers, businesses, and health care providers are framing the debate in Salem.
Raising the gas tax not only directly impacts drivers and businesses, it also raises the price of transporting goods. This cost is eventually passed on to consumers in the price of nearly every good sold in the state – from groceries to school supplies.
Additionally, the governor has proposed a 60-cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax, which will do little to raise revenue. Of the nearly 60 tobacco tax increases around the country since 2003, only 16 actually met revenue projections. In fact, after New Jersey increased the cigarette tax just 17.5 cents in 2007, expecting to raise $30 million, the state lost $24 million in revenue from consumers who sought cheaper products across state lines or from other venders.
It is critical to revitalize the Oregon economy with tax cuts, not tax increases.  We must lift the burden of larger government from the backs of hardworking taxpayers and consumers instead of further depressing economic activity. As you continue to weigh options to rectify the state’s overspending problem, I urge you to stand up for taxpayers and oppose all tax increases. If you have any questions, please contact Kelly Cobb, ATR state affairs manager, at (202) 785-0266, or Jason Williams at (503) 603-9009.
Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform
Jason Williams
Taxpayers Association of Oregon

Click here for a PDF version of the letter.