SALEM, Ore. - A measure on Oregon ballots this November may make your eyes glaze over but it could have tremendous consequences for you as a taxpayer.
Measure 59 would allow federal income taxes to be fully deducted on state income tax returns. It would lower state revenues by $1.3 billion in the 2009 - 2011 biennium and $2.4 billion in the 2011 - 2013 biennium.
The state budget, which pays for education, human services and public safety, would take the hit.
The measure's author, political activist Bill Sizemore, said it is morally wrong to force people to pay income taxes on their income taxes, in other words "double taxation."
His measure would benefit about a quarter of Oregon taxpayers.
Those making roughly $40,000 a year would save about $2 under Measure 59. But the tax breaks would grow with each "step-up" in annual income.
Those getting the biggest tax breaks would be Oregon millionaires – the state's richest 1 percent.
"What I don't like to see is a tax code that punishes people for success," Sizemore said.
But opponents of the measure say it would punish the lower and middle classes - since Measure 59 would take away billions from the state's general fund, likely leading to cuts in state services or new taxes.
"Those people aren't going to save any money under this measure," said Scott Moore of Defend Oregon, a union-backed group fighting several measures on the ballot. "But they're going to have to shoulder the costs of new taxes to pay for the service cuts or they're going to be left with fewer public services."
Measure 59 is largely funded by Loren Parks, a controversial, right-wing financier from Nevada.
If the measure passes, Oregon will join Alabama, Iowa and Louisiana in allowing federal income taxes to be deducted from state returns.