Democratic State Representative Candidates Waffle on IP 28
On Thursday July 14th I attended a "Meet the Candidates" event hosted by the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce. The event hosted the candidates for State Representative from Districts 26, 29, and 30. The event started off nicely, early questions focused on things such as the candidates motivations for seeking office and what their legislative priorities would be if they were elected. This was a great opportunity to learn about all of the candidates in the race and their motivations.
Then the host got around to asking the candidates how they would be voting on IP 28, the gross receipts tax that would serve as one of the largest tax increases in Oregon's history, with around $3 Billion dollars in new taxes per year.
Republicans Juanita Lint, Dan Mason, and Rich Vial all came out against the measure because of the the effect it could have on employment and the health of the economy. Kyle Markley the lone Libertarian candidate also came out against the tax. Then we came to Janeen Sollman, Democratic candidate for HD 30, and Ray Lister, Democratic candidate for HD 26. Both Sollman and Lister refused to take a stance on the measure when asked by the host of the event how they would vote on it. They continued to avoid taking a position even when they were pressed on it by a member of the audience who was concerned about the effect the tax would have on his business. To her credit Representative Susan McLain came out in favor of the measure as opposed to her fellow Democrats who continued to waffle on the issue.
IP 28 has easily been the most talked about measure going to the voters this cycle. The proposal has been out there for months and the Legislative Revenue Office's analysis of the measure has been available since May. Being one of the biggest changes ever made to Oregon's tax structure it is unacceptable that these candidates continue to duck the question. Ballot measures serve as a great barometer for how candidates would vote in the legislature and the voters in House Districts 26 and 30 deserve to know how their potential legislators stand on issues like this that would effect their businesses and well being. Unfortunately refusing to take a stance on IP 28 seems to be a trend among Democratic candidates this election cycle, starting at the top with out Governor Kate Brown, who has released a plan on how to spend the money should the tax be implemented, but hasn't come out for or against the tax itself.
If I had to guess I would say that Governor Brown, Janeen Sollman, and Ray Lister all support the tax increase, but currently lack the political courage to come out and say so. Oregon voters deserve better than "leaders" who duck tough questions, especially when so many of our fellow Oregonians are concerned about how their future will be affected by this tax.
Or maybe I just expect too much from those who seek to represent us in Salem.