Campaign Misses Deadline, Locks Up Key Democratic Endorsements

September 9, 2020

PORTLAND – Late yesterday afternoon, the Stop the Metro Wage Tax campaign experienced an unfortunate failure, as one of our staff was two tragic minutes late to hand in Washington County voters’ pamphlet statements. To be clear, we do not blame County elections officials for upholding the deadline, and we understand that any failure of one of our team is in fact a failure of the team as a whole. 

Despite the depth of our frustration and regret, we are a campaign trying to preserve jobs, so no one will be fired as a result of this mistake. We know that sometimes in times of stress like we are all in right now, people make mistakes. This one is unfortunate, but not as tragic or lasting as Metro’s decision to refer a permanent tax on wages in the middle of a pandemic. 

One of the contributing reasons for the late arrival was the excitement our campaign staff felt yesterday as endorsement statements rolled in beyond what we were expecting. Of course, in retrospect we wish we would have cut them off earlier to allow most to get in rather than trying in vain to get them all processed in time. 

“It turns out human beings make mistakes, even when they work together with positive intentions,” said campaign director Kevin Looper. “Metro certainly has proven that with a permanent wage tax proposal in the midst of the apocalypse. 

“It is ironic in an Alanis Morrissette sort of way that our staffer got caught in traffic fighting a $7 billion transportation measure that only spends 3 percent to relieve congestion. 

“Our mistake yesterday certainly was regrettable, but did not cost anyone their job. Wish we could say the same for Metro.”

The campaign today released its most exciting NO statements from Democratic leaders representing Washington County.

Representative Jeff Barker, D-Aloha:

“As a Democrat, I’m frankly appalled that this tax is regressive, punishing employment and generating revenue based on the total compensation paid to employees. Taxing health care benefits, dental, retirement fund contributions just like income is not fair, or remotely in line with progressive values. 

“As we move forward after this pandemic and the resulting recession – or economic restructuring — I hope the Legislature will learn the lessons that Metro is ignoring: We need to prioritize our kids and families, and take a step back to consider what the impact will be from our actions. Our community needs to be united to serve the common good, not divided to serve government interest.”

Senator Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose:

“Throughout my career, I have been a steadfast supporter of transportation.  There are absolutely improvements we need to make, including fixing bottlenecks in the region. But this is too big, too bloated, and too burdensome.

“Let’s take a breath. We’re in a health pandemic, coupled with massive social unrest and historic unemployment. I don’t know how much worse we can make it, but if voters pass this crippling tax, we’ll find out.”

Senate Revenue Committee Chair Mark Hass, D-Beaverton:

“As the Chair of the Oregon Senate Revenue Committee, I don’t believe taxes are evil and I strongly support a transportation system that delivers health and economic benefits.

“But Metro has done a poor job of uniting the two in this proposal. It needs to be sent back to the drawing board.”

We believe these extraordinary statements from Washington County Democrats opposed to Metro’s regressive and permanent tax are just the beginning of overwhelming rejection of this poorly conceived, poorly written, and even more poorly timed measure.