Corporate sales tax foes report raising $16.8 million

Measure 97 would levy a 2.5 percent "gross receipts "tax on certain corporations' Oregon sales exceeding $25 million

Oregon Senate
FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 photo, the Oregon Senate recites the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the 77th Oregon Legislature taking the oath of office in Salem, Ore. (Don Ryan, AP Photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Opponents of a controversial corporate sales tax measure on the November ballot have reported raising $16.8 million to quash the proposal.

Two political action committees supporting Measure 97 have raised more than $7 million and spent nearly $3 million, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. The committees seeking to defeat the measure reported spending $11.6 million. Both sides filed a required campaign finance report by a late Tuesday deadline.

Measure 97 would levy a 2.5 percent “gross receipts “tax on certain corporations’ Oregon sales exceeding $25 million.

The tax would bring in an estimated $3 billion per year in new revenue, representing the largest sales tax in the state’s history and boosting the state’s general fund by 25 percent.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 Media partner.

Union-backed Our Oregon petitioned for the ballot measure. Supporters say the new revenue would help fund education, health care and senior services. Meanwhile, opponents point to estimates by the Legislative Revenue Office that show that the tax would increase prices and slow job growth in the state. Legislative counsel has issued an opinion stating that legislators are not restricted to using the money for purposes Our Oregon intended.

Both big corporations and local business groups have opposed the measure. Some of the opponents’ recent contributions came from out-of-state mega corporations such as Comcast and Kroger/Fred Meyer, but the Craft Brew Alliance and Portland-based Jive Software also are among the contributors.

The campaign for the measure received contributions from the American Federation of Teachers and their Oregon chapter, the Oregon Education Association and Oregon AFSCME Council 75.

While spending over Measure 97 has accelerated, the battle over labeling genetically modified foods in 2014 remains the state’s most expensive ballot measure contest in the state’s history. The campaign against the measure raised more than $20 million during that election.