What the hell are we voting on?

There's no mindscrew like a Portland political mindscrew. Check out the latest election porn that arrived here at Blog Central. It's trying to get us to vote for a certain ballot measure in the upcoming election:

Hmmmm, so what is it we're voting on, exactly? Buses, something to do with buses... People crossing the street...

It's a "transportation measure" that will "fund transit, safety and other transportation projects."

Wow, how groovy. But it's kind of vague. Let's flip it over and see more:

Okay, six paragraphs of explanation there. Paragraph 1: "proposed transportation funding measure." Paragraph 2: "the proposed measure would fund projects." Paragraph 3: "the proposed measure would also fund."

Wow, that's a lot of "funding." I think that means spending money. Well, hey, I'm from Portland, and we spend public money on all sorts of wonderful toys. What the heck? It sounds good.

But then, finally, we get to paragraph 4.  Oops!  "[A] proposed tax on certain employers... up to 0.075% of their payroll."


I've already written here about how bad an idea this is. We already have a transportation payroll tax, which goes to Tri-Met. Now we need another one, to go to "Metro," whatever the heck that is? Give me a break. We need to defund Metro and get it back to being a bare-bones land use agency, before it bankrupts us all.

And so of course, on this foolish ballot measure, my vote is no, no, a thousand times no. And it looks like I'm not alone. The opposition is stiff enough that this one might fail, which doesn't happen often around here. Portland voters rarely meet a tax they don't like.

The opposition is running TV ads branding this a "wage tax," which is a clever, and accurate, way of putting it. Your employer will pay the tax, not you, that's true. But don't think for a minute that your employer won't be brooding about it the next time you're up for a raise.

Anyway, for the moment, just note the Metro mindscrew. The people who write this stuff should be ashamed.


  1. Worth reading this: https://cityobservatory.org/the-case-against-metros-5-billion-transportation-bond/

    With climate change being a major, major issue, and transportation being a substantial source of greenhouse gases, it is unconscionable to spent this amount of money on transportation to have absolutely no effect on reducing emissions.

  2. Does it seem "fair" to exempt local and state governments, including Metro, from having to pay the tax? Non-profits with more than 25 employees will have to pay the tax. Does that include large churches and private schools? Don't we all use the transportation system? How it this "equity"?


    In addition, OHSU, the region's third largest employer, is making the case they don't have to pay either. What about school district employees?


    1. Government shouldn't have to pay, because no one should have to pay. This is a colossally stupid proposal.

  3. There are a few good projects and ideas in the measure. But on balance, it's much, much more bad than good. And not an effective and efficient use of billions of dollars of public funds.

    As the world has changed (COVID-19 and the resulting effects on the economy), the measure should have been re-imagined. Even Dr. Fauci, who recommended against wearing masks early in the pandemic to preserve badly needed PPE for frontline and healthcare workers, soon changed his recommendation when it became apparent that asymptomatic transmission was a common pathway for SARS-Cov-2 to spread between people and that masks could reduce the level of transmission. Metro did not change, not one bit. And that's on them.

  4. Misplaced the decimal. The rate is up to 0.75% of payroll. Only 10x greater than you report. Ugh.

  5. Let's not forget the other little problem rock that got kicked over: https://www.wweek.com/news/2020/09/15/proposed-metro-transportation-measure-could-tax-value-of-health-insurance-other-non-cash-compensation/

  6. After underwriting the Convention Center Hotel, METRO will never, ever, again get me to vote them any more money.


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