Editorial Endorsement 2020: Amid Economic Turmoil, Voters Should Reject Metro’s Payroll Tax Measure

With its $5 billion price tag, the Metro transportation measure was designed to offer something for everyone – street safety projects for dangerous highways from East Portland to Washington County; free bus and light-rail passes for youth; and, the centerpiece, a new light-rail line to Tigard’s Bridgeport Village.

Turns out there’s something for everyone to hate as well.

Despite its size – the measure would stand as one of the largest transportation investments in state history – this package will do virtually nothing to lower greenhouse gas emissions, Metro’s own environmental impact statement shows. It would displace potentially hundreds of families living along the path of the light-rail line. And the measure calls for levying a tax on the wages paid by businesses, nonprofits and other employers, even though the coronavirus pandemic has already shut down businesses and laid off hundreds of thousands of people. Metro’s not completely heartless, however. It exempted smaller employers as well as state and local government agencies of any size, including, conveniently, Metro itself.