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Measure To Increase Corporate Taxes In Oregon Starts With Strong Voter Support, Poll Says

<p>Closeup of accountant looking through the receipts while working on a report.</p>

Gajus

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Closeup of accountant looking through the receipts while working on a report.

A proposed corporate tax hike on the November ballot in Oregon appears headed into the fall campaign in a strong position with voters.

A new poll finds that Measure 97 is supported by 60 percent of Oregon voters, compared to 30 percent against. , a Portland research firm working independently of the campaigns supporting and opposing the controversial initiative.

John Horvick, DHM vice president, cautioned that voter sentiments are likely to change once the campaigns start in earnest.  Opponents in the business community have raised about $9 million so far and are preparing to launch an intense TV advertising campaign.

Meanwhile, the union-backed group supporting the initiative is planning a huge grass-roots campaign and says it will have its own advertising effort as well.

The survey shows that voter support is far from concrete. While 46 percent say they are certain to vote for the measure, another 14 percent say they are leaning in favor.

In addition, only 25 percent say the state needs to raise taxes and increase funding for services. But the poll finds strong support for the argument that large corporations are under-taxed. All told, 59 percent say they pay too little.

Horvick said opponents will seek to portray the measure as a tax increase that would eventually be passed on to consumers.  Supporters will focus on saying corporations should pay their fair share, he said.

The Sept. 1–6 telephone survey of 517 registered voters has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points, plus or minus.

Spokespeople for both campaigns said they weren't surprised by the findings. Katherine Driessen said it is "consistent with what we're hearing from Oregonians every day."

Pat McCormick, from the opposing campaign, said his side hasn't started communicating with voters. "It's not unexpected," he said of the poll, adding that the measure carries an appealing ballot title.

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Jeff Mapes is a senior political reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, Jeff covered state and national politics for The Oregonian for nearly 32 years. He has covered numerous presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and ballot measure campaigns, as well as many sessions of the Legislature, stretching back to 1985. Jeff graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in journalism.