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Portland homeless tax wins handily amid virus woes


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A measure to tax the wealthiest residents and the biggest businesses in the Portland area to raise $2.5 billion over a decade to address homelessness sailed to victory as final ballots were tallied Wednesday, even as the state faces crippling revenue losses and record-high unemployment due to the coronavirus.

Nearly 60% of voters in the three counties that make up the greater Portland region approved the tax in Tuesday’s primary election amid the greatest economic turmoil in years, a sign of just how intractable the homeless problem has become in the Pacific Northwest city.

The measure envisions a regional approach to solving the homeless crisis by taxing the ultra-wealthy that could be used in other cities, said Angela Martin, campaign director for HereTogether, the coalition that crafted it.

“What people across the country are realizing is that this coronavirus has laid bare the fractures that already existed in our communities and what I’m most excited about is that for the first time we aren’t doing a Band-Aid approach,” she said. “So what does it look like when we’re actually able to match the scale and scope of the problem with the proper resources?”

The ballot measure had been planned before the pandemic reduced the U.S. economy to tatters. Proponents, including the powerful Portland Business Alliance and major institutions like the NBA’s Trail Blazers, argued that the taxes are needed now more than ever as unemployment in Oregon hits 14% and state revenue forecasts plummet by $2.7 billion in the current biennium.

The measure was referred to voters by Metro, a unique regional agency that oversees growth, planning and development in Portland and its suburban communities.

Opponents, funded almost entirely by the Northwest Grocery Association, argued that the measure was ill-timed and that critical questions about oversight were unanswered in the rush to get it on the May ballot.

The measure has a “serious lack of accountability surrounding the management of taxpayer dollars,” said Joe Gilliam of the Northwest Grocery Association. “METRO won tonight. But now they must perform and meet voter expectation. Everyone is watching.”

The measure’s passage puts in place a 1% marginal income tax on the wealthiest residents and a 1% tax on gross profits for the region’s biggest businesses. Roughly 90% of residents and 94% of businesses will be exempt from the tax, supporters say.

The tax will apply to individual filers with a taxable income of more than $125,000 or joint filers with taxable income of more than $200,000. Joint filers making $215,000 a year, for example, would be taxed 1% on $15,000, or $150 a year.

The measure has a 10-year sunset clause and was expected to generate $2.5 billion before the economic fallout from the pandemic, but the recession’s impact on those estimates is unclear.

The first taxes would not be collected until 2021 and the money will be distributed to the three counties based on their percentage of the region’s overall population.

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Election / Government-politics / News / Top Stories

The Associated Press



  1. This is absolutely laughable. It’s class warfare, nothing else. The stupid socialist mindset is , let’s punish the evil rich people. The old ( good) America used to find a mentor ( successful person) and say , hey I want to learn what he did so I can be successful. Now the younger people are actually taught to hate successful people and that they themselves will never be wealthy so let’s go get them and bring them down to our level. This is the liberal democrats keeping you down and keeping your vote. Why can’t you see this. It’s pure evil. Go against this and you to can live a very happy fruitful life.

    1. $150 a year for a couple making $215k is punishment? Sounds like you’re a big baby. For someone making $30k, $150 is far more valuable.

      1. Hey everyone, here’s the brain dead socialist I’m talking about. I want people like him to quit being a whiner and start teaching people to be responsible for them selves. Stop expecting me to work and give money to people who won’t. This is going to be a train wreck and you’ve got no one but yourselves to blame.

        1. Or there’s the other side of the fence. The rich and greedy. You want more and more but won’t stop to help a fellow human being in trouble. I’m not wealthy enough to qualify for this tax, but I still put out plenty to help those less fortunate. I do OK and am more than happy to help people, especially families in need. If those who had it did it more willingly instead of being scrooges, we wouldn’t need a tax to force it on those who can afford it.

        2. Okay, you go teach the mentally ill how to take care of themselves in some other way than sleeping under my bushes. Please make a YouTube so everyone can teach them just like you do.

          1. Stop with your lies and the straw man approach. Everybody know the mentally ill are a small percent of the homeless and everybody wants them to get help. Sorry Lib. Go check the mailbox and see if you gobment check is there.

            1. Okay! You go find us a mentally stable homeless person and post your YouTube interview with them explaining why they choose that homeless lifestyle. Then you can teach them how to stay housed all on their own! Can’t wait to see it

    2. class warfare – you are a hoot – our federal government just gave away 3 trillion of our money to large corporations – wealth disparity is more extreme than it has ever been in the history of humanity – nowhere in the entire country can a full time worker making minimum wage (a federal standard set by congress, that congress packed with wealthy people)afford a place to live – the largest social engineering wealth redistribution to ever happen and you are calling poor people getting a few crumbs “pure evil” – time to look in the mirror

    3. And the broken record, mindless, knee jerk spin rolls on. Classic poorly educated, regressive, diabetic, hillbilly rhetoric. Feel free to move to economically failing eastside communiyies anytime. There you can avoid earning money!!! LMAO!!!

      Golf and a whore anyone!!!! trump / kim 2020!!! TRUE LOVE!!!

  2. Prepare for a flood of homeless you ignorant Portlandia people. This is going to be fun to watch. Most of Portland already needs a good toilet flush, this will surly clog that toilet.

    1. Everyone loves taxes that are paid by others; look how high the lodging tax rate is. The vote would have been different if everyone paid some, but it was progressive so that the wealthy paid more. By completely exempting the majority of taxpayers, they looked upon it as “free” money. Everybody loves “free” money!

    2. because there are a few people left in this country who are not completely overwhelmed with extreme greed and avarice toward their fellow humans – people who still have a vague sense of personal ethics – never mind

    1. Who cares we have everything we need and more on this side of the state. And as long as portland’s and the willamette valley’s third world plague doesn’t ooze over to this side of the mountain we’ll do just fine. I’m also confident the folks moving to Bend escaping the s*******s they came from do not want a repeat.

  3. I see reports from Portland that since the shutdown the homeless have pitch their tents in front of businesses. Causing stores to either delay opening or customers who refuse to be exposed to the bio hazard.

    1. I heard that homeless people have been handing out free kittens and helping old ladies cross the street. I also heard that they host a bake sale once a week and donate the proceeds to a local non profit. So hard to know what to believe these days…

  4. Anyone who has ever fed geese at the park knows how this works out. Nothing against geese, but when you feed them, more come for the free hand out. Feed more, more come. And then they become dependent—-until they no longer know how to feed themselves. It is of course true that people are not geese. But their behaviors in this scenario are identical.

  5. There is just something about a majority passing a tax on a minority and then virtue signaling after exempting themselves from the tax burden. The same amount of money could be collected by a .005% tax on the cost of boutique wine, micro brew, electric bill etc. and so on. When we share the burden we are part of the solution. Otherwise we are just takers. Eat the rich until they are no more, comrades.

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