Oregon teachers union opposes tax hike warning label

An Oregon teachers union has asked the legislature to remove a red warning on ballot envelopes that serves to remind citizens about votes that impacts their taxes.

Oregon state law requires all ballot questions that could raise taxes to bear the following warning on the envelope: CONTAINS VOTE ON PROPOSED TAX INCREASE. The warning must be “boldly printed in red.” This stipulation was itself the product of a ballot measure, approved by voters in 1997.

But the Oregon Education Association wants the red ink provision jettisoned. A union spokesperson convinced the legislature to examine the issue, according to The Oregonian.

If voters know that a bill contains language that would raise taxes, they are more likely to take action against it. The union’s hostility to the warning is therefore political, said conservative activist Bill Sizemore.

“They do not want voters to know there is a tax vote on the ballot because they know if they open it up and look at it, they’re more likely to vote no,” he said in a statement.

Jason Williams, executive director of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, called the warning a “common courtesy” to taxpayers that their government is “about to knock the daylights out of you with a tax increase.”

Oregon voters will soon weigh important questions about reforming the state’s public employee pension system. An editorial in The Oregonian charged the OEA with trying to tip the scales in its favor by abolishing the warning about tax increases before the vote happens.

“Lawmakers are gearing up for some difficult votes on reforming the PERS pension system for public employees, and Democrats may be looking for some small, affordable ways to make unions happy,” wrote The Oregonian editorial board. “The envelope bill would qualify.”

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