Two ballot measures that would raise taxes on businesses and higher-income residents in Oregon appeared headed for approval late Tuesday. The tax increases, which would raise about $727 million largely for public education and social services, were approved last year by the Legislature, but later put to a public referendum after opponents gathered signatures in a petition campaign.
The Legislature, controlled by Democrats, has already put the $727 million into the current budget. So if the ballot items, known as Measures 66 and 67, had been rejected, lawmakers would have been forced to hold a special session to find other ways to reduce spending or raise revenue.
This is a bellwether for both Congress, as its considers its budget choices, and state legislatures, and defies conventional wisdom that voters aren't willing to choose revenue increases over government service cuts in hard economic times if those revenue increases are well crafted.