Anti-Tax Effort Threatens Oregon Health Plan.

Struggling to balance the budget, the Oregon Legislature finally passed a revenue measure, House Bill 2152, in the last hours of the session this summer. House Bill 2152 would raise approximately $800 million, primarily through an income tax surcharge, for schools, public safety, the Oregon Health Plan and other services.

But will the measure ever become law?

A group backed by a Washington, D.C.-based anti-tax organization is currently circulating petitions throughout the state to repeal House Bill 2152 before it ever raises a dime. Their first goal is to gather enough signatures to refer House Bill 2152 to the ballot. Then they will campaign to repeal the measure in a special statewide election in February 2004.

If the anti-tax effort succeeds, and House Bill 2152 is repealed, the Oregon Health Plan stands to lose more than $220 million -- $200 million from repeal of the income tax surcharge and $22 million from repeal of a 10-cent a pack cigarette tax that helps fund the Health Plan. The impact would probably mean that approximately 80,000 people would lose coverage under the Oregon Health Plan.

If the tax measure opponents fail to gather enough signatures to refer the measure to the ballot -- or if the voters reject the referendum -- House Bill 2152 will go into effect and the revenue will be raised.

Questions? Call OAO's lobbyists, Nan Heim or Gina Cole, at 503-224-0007.


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