Measure 97 campaign concedes defeat

The measure failed with 58% “no” votes

Hanna Vaandering speaks after Yes on Measure 97 campaign concedes defeat. (KOIN)
Hanna Vaandering speaks after Yes on Measure 97 campaign concedes defeat. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon voters have voted “no” on what some have called “a sales tax in sheep’s clothing.”

The measure failed with 58% “no” votes.

If it had passed, Measure 97 would have imposed a 2.5% tax on corporate gross sales that exceed $25 million. The funds raised by that tax were to benefit education, healthcare and senior services.

Opponents worked hard to inform voters of possible negative impacts of the tax.

Complete coverage: KOIN 6 News Election Headquarters

The No on 97 campaign celebrated the rejection of what they called a “costly and damaging proposal.”

The campaign against 97 was a coalition of more than 27,000 small and large businesses in Oregon.

Opponents focused on studies that show consumers would pay for much of the cost of the tax. The typical Oregon family would see their costs climb by about $600 in the form of higher prices and job opportunities, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office.

A coalition of parents, teachers and small businesses called A Better Oregon wrote the measure and broke a fundraising record after raising $33.4 million to support Measure 97.

Ben Unger, who helped spearhead Measure 97, conceded defeat Tuesday night.

Unger released the following statement:

“While we did not win this election this time, we did win the debate. Because of the work we did no one is going to accept school budget cuts, or more expensive health care, without first asking: Instead of cuts, why not make large corporations pay their fair share? That’s a victory in its own right, and it’s something to be proud of.”

Oregon is one of five states in America that doesn’t have sales taxes. Oregonians have rejected sales tax proposals nine times in nearly 90 years.

Some were afraid it would result in job cuts and increased cost being passed on to customers.

An estimated $548 million would be raised for the state between January 1 and June 30, 2017 with the new tax.

Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Measure 97 on October 19. The former Democratic presidential candidate said his endorsement of the corporate tax measure comes at a time of massive income and wealth inequality.

Gov. Kate Brown defended her decision to support a corporate sales tax measure Wednesday as the only viable alternative to deep cuts at state agencies and rollbacks to recent education and health care investments.

Deciding to endorse Measure 97 “truly was the most difficult decision I have ever made during my time in office,” Brown said.

The Associated Press and the Portland Tribune contributed to this report.