Business Lobby Gives Up Effort To Block Education Funding

  A business lobbying group which launched a campaign earlier in the summer to overturn a tax on business designed to fund education announced last week that they are pulling the plug.  

Oregon Manufacturers & Commerce (OMC) announced the end of a petition seeking to refer the new business tax to be put to voters as a statewide ballot measure, where it was more likely to fail than in the legislature. They blamed Democrats for forcing the ballot to held in January rather than November in 2020.  

In May, Oregon Democrats attempted to pass an education bill, funded by a new tax on businesses with over $1 million in sales per year. As part of an agreement which ended a somewhat brief walkout by Senate Republicans, Oregon’s largest business lobbying organization, Oregon Business & Industry (OBI), agreed to remain neutral on the issue of the new tax.  

However, OMC is a newer, more aggressive industry group, and made no such agreement. They took the lead on an effort to push the issue to a ballot measure, hoping the vote would be held in November 2020 to benefit from the higher number of voters during a presidential election.  

However, one of the last-minute bills which whipped through the legislature after a nine-day Republican walkout in June set the date for any potential ballot measure on the issue in January 2020 rather than November. OMC said in a statement that they are ending their petition because they had not planned on mounting two separate campaigns – one in January to block the tax, and another in November. 

By Ian MacRonald