I think too much credit has been given, in the defeat of Measure 30, to rightwing money. Money may have put M30 on the ballot, but I didn't see any signs that money defeated it -- no visible TV ad campaign, etc. We need to look at what else is going on.
State legislators should have known that their budget balancing bill would be referred to the voters and defeated. The defeat of M28 last January should have told them that. Their plan was way too complicated for most voters to understand. I don't think most people understand a progressive tax, or understood that most people would be paying only a few more dollars a month in state taxes. All they knew what that taxes would go up, and they feel like they're paying too much already. You cannot send any kind of complicated measure to the voters and expect it to pass. They will not get it, and TV news, for most people the only news they get, will not explain it to them.
Nor did the coalition which tried to pass M30 do a very good job of explaining to people how much M30 would cost them. The flyer I saw said something like "This is a fair tax. Those who make more will pay more." No, that doesn't do it. You have to tell people exactly, as close as you can, what it will cost them. There should have been a simple table on the flyer, telling people what the average tax would be for a given income range. The state Legislative Revenue Office had something like that on their website.
The bottom line is that Oregonians are not going to vote to increase their taxes, no matter what. They don't care who gets hurt, they just will not pay any more. You could call that greed or self-defense, but that is what is happening, and we need to work around it.
The state legislature will be having a special session in June on tax reform. Before that they will do hearings around the state. We need to be at those hearings and campaign for a fairer tax system that will increase state revenue enough to fund human services and education. Progressives need to study the state tax system so they understand it well enough to explain it to others. If the legislature can't produce a fairer system, and they probably won't, we should start thinking about an initiative for 2006.
At a recent Eugene workshop on the state budget and taxes I found out that 52 cents out of every tax dollar is never collected because of tax credits. We should think about an initiative to abolish all the tax credits that go to business. People will not support any tax increase they have to pay, but I think they would vote to cut out business tax "loopholes." Someone wrote a while back that the state legislature has been "passing out tax credits like candy."
To start learning about the Oregon tax system, check out the website for Citizens for Oregon's Future at http://www.fororegon.org/ . They are available to do nonpartisan workshops and presentations.