Vote yes on 79, 84

By Observer editorial October 19, 2012 01:46 pm

When the economy is humming along, government coffers tend to be full.

The relationship could fairly be described as symbiotic.

Businesses pay employees to produce goods and services that customers buy. The government takes a piece of the action, in the form of income and other taxes, and uses the money to maintain roads and emergency services and schools that make efficient and profitable commerce possible.

Trouble can arise, though, when the economy stagnates.

When tax revenues decline, government agencies sometimes look for new sources.

The danger comes when the government, by imposing a new fee or tax, discourages economic activity and thus prolongs the financial doldrums, ultimately hurting both the private and public sectors.

A real estate transfer tax is an example.

And although there is only one such tax in effect in Oregon now — in Washington County — the Legislature and the governor could create a statewide tax and change the law to allow local governments to do the same. A statewide tax has been proposed several times, in fact.

Voters, though, can take away that authority by voting “yes” on Measure 79. We think they should.

There’s no legitimate reason for government at any level to tax the transfer of real estate. Imposing such a tax now, with the housing market barely beginning to recover from the recession, would be particularly ill-timed.

Fortunately, voters can get rid of a similarly onerous and unnecessary tax by voting “yes” on Measure 84. It would initially reduce, then eliminate altogether, the state’s inheritance tax. Currently, estates worth up to $1 million are exempt, but amounts above that are subject to taxes.

Although the tax system includes credits for farms and ranches that can exempt from taxes operations worth as much as $7.5 million, there are plenty of farms and ranches in Oregon, including in Union and Wallowa counties, that exceed that value. Inheritance tax revenues are barely a blip in the state budget — 1.5 percent of the general fund — but the tax can be an insurmountable burden for people who want only to keep a business in the family.


Elect Bradshaw in Island City 

Harry Thomas has served the city of Island City admirably for many years. His record of community service, of going the extra mile for his city, is laudable and should be emulated.

That said, it’s the right time to elect Kevin Bradshaw, a young educated guy who would bring a fresh outlook to the council. Bradshaw’s enthusiasm and energy would help him do a great job as a councilman. He’s well spoken, his heart is in the right place and he brings a fresh voice to the council.

Bradshaw, who owns a business called The Potter’s Shack, said he’s running because he believes in community service and he is concerned for the future of his four children and wants to ensure that Island City is a great place to live and raise children. Voters should elect Bradshaw to the Island City City Council.