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Information on Measures 66 and 67
Photos and Story by Dana Haynes
Voters in Oregon will be asked this January to vote on two tax measures put on the ballot by the 2009 Oregon Legislature.
Portland Community College cannot support or oppose these measures, but may provide impartial information on the potential impact of the Measures on the College.
Measure 66 would increase the marginal tax rate on personal income of more than $125,000 for individuals or $250,000 for couples.
Measure 67 would increase corporate tax rates and would raise the corporate minimum tax from $10 per year to between $150 and $100,000, depending on a business’s in-state sales. The minimum tax rate has not changed in Oregon since 1931.
Combined, the two measures would raise $733 million for state spending for the 2009-11 biennium (Oregon funds all departments in two-year cycles).
By law, Oregon cannot run deficits and must balance its budget each biennium, unlike the federal government. Oregon’s revenue is based primarily on income taxes, and the rising unemployment has resulted in a significant loss of revenue. The legislature enacted the taxes to balance the budget.
Portland Community College is partially supported by state funds, as are the other 16 independent community colleges throughout the state. Oregon’s funding for community colleges is $450.5 million for 2009-11. This is a 10 percent reduction in what the community colleges received in the 2007-09 biennium.
These reductions have meant that, for the first time, Oregon students are paying a greater proportion of the cost to attend PCC than the state of Oregon pays. In 2002, students’ tuition paid for about 35 percent of the cost of attending PCC, while the state support was 42 percent. As of this year, students themselves are paying more than 40 percent, while the state’s share is 39 percent.
If voters say “yes” to Measures 66 and 67, it is unlikely that the college’s budget would be reduced further in this biennium. A “yes’ vote on the measures would increase taxes as provided above.
If one or both of the measures fail, the Legislature will need to convene and determine how to balance the budget without the revenues from the tax measures. This could require raising revenue through other taxes or fees and/or additional budget reductions for state agencies and other governmental entities that receive state funding, such as K-12 schools and community colleges. As a contingency plan, the state has asked PCC to prepare a projected budget for the remainder of the biennium that incorporates reductions of 5 percent and 10 percent. This is in addition to the 10 percent budget reduction that the college sustained for 2009-11.
Enrollment has increased college-wide by more than 16 percent from fall 2008 to fall 2009. Enrollment increases at PCC’s Rock Creek and Cascade campuses have been even greater: a 22 percent increase at Rock Creek and 20 percent increase at Cascade. Final numbers for winter term enrollment are not yet available. Additional cuts to the community college budget could require PCC to raise tuition and/or reduce college programs.