Democratic Socialists of America to bring ‘Tax the Rich’ campaign to Salem

Protesters from Poor People’s Campaign, Oregon’s Democratic Socialists of America, Jobs With Justice and other organizations will meet in front of the state capitol building in Salem Monday, May 21 to rally against Governor Kate Brown’s special session in which lawmakers will vote on her proposal to lower taxes for certain business owners.

“It is time for us to stand up against the austerity model that has left our state perpetually underfunded for decades,” said Portland DSA Co-chair Emily Golden-Fields, quoted in a press release. “Where’s the special session for education? For rent control? For foster care? To protect immigrant and refugee communities?”

Brown is pushing to amend a 2013 law that lessened the tax burden on manufacturing and export businesses. Currently, the law does not benefit sole proprietorships, meaning businesses conducted by just one person. Under Brown’s amendment, sole proprietors—the majority of whom would be high income earners—will pay less in taxes than would wage-earners grossing the same amount.

According to The Oregonian, an analysis by the Legislative Revenue Office found more than 75 percent of the $11 million tax giveaway would go to business owners making over $200,000 a year if Brown’s proposal passes. More than 40 percent would benefit sole proprietors making more than $500,000 annually, and less than ten percent of the tax savings would go to those making less than $100,000.

Additionally, the tax break—which Brown said could benefit around 9,000 business owners—might drain between $10 million and $15 million from the state’s budget.

In an official proclamation, Brown wrote, “Oregon’s smallest businesses should have the chance to grow by allowing them the same reduced tax rates that other qualified businesses already receive.” Rally organizers, on the other hand, refer to the proposal in a press release as “class warfare against the working people of Oregon.”

Alyssa Pagan, an organizer with Poor People’s Campaign, said she believes Brown’s special session reveals where her loyalty lies. She said she hopes the rally “shows more people that Kate Brown is beholden to business interests and that her loyalty is to them [because] a lot of people are confused about that.”

Poor People’s Campaign and Oregon’s DSA state in their joint press release that they hope this rally will lead to a new special session—one that would “tax the wealthy and corporations to fund education, housing, jobs, and services for our immigrant and refugee communities.”

This event follows the recent “Tax the Rich” rally, held on May 10 outside of Portland City Hall and organized by the Portland DSA and Tax the Rich Portland. Participants protested against Mayor Ted Wheeler’s proposed budget cuts and increases to Portland Police Bureau staffing, arguing the city would be able to add $114 million annually to fund community centers, parks, housing, and refugee services by increasing tax rates for those making more than $250,000 per year.

Although Pagan said she does not know whether police will be present at Monday’s rally, she said attendees “should be prepared for police violence, because generally they use brutal force with no consequence.”