Students, teachers and parents gathered in Pioneer Square yesterday for a march against Measure 26-64.
Multnomah County voters approved Measure 26-48 in 2003, enacting a three-year 1.25 percent income tax for county schools, health and senior care and public safety. The tax is on income earned in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
If Measure 26-64 passes, the temporary tax enacted by 26-48 would be repealed for 2004 and 2005.
Seventy percent of the money from the measure goes to support schools.
Marchers braved the rain and walked to City Hall, chanting “26-64, keep that measure out the door!” and “These are children learning no!”
A bystander watching the protest said, “The state of our schools? What the hell is wrong with them?”
According to Lila Zucker, it’s about what could be wrong with them. Zucker and several other students put together the march after hearing about the measure from their teachers.
Although not of voting age, Zucker believes in influencing others to vote.
“This is an issue that affects us,” she said, “because we’re not able to vote we should have more say in issues.”
Zucker said the measure would affect schools most deeply, and would lead to teacher lay offs and larger class sizes, shorten the school year by six weeks, and cut athletic programs and Outdoor School.
She said a lot of people have told her they don’t want to pay more taxes. The cost of Measure 26-48 averages about $47 a month, money that low income workers can’t afford to pay.
“But I think before you have real change you need to make small changes,” Zucker said. She believes Measure 26-64 is one of them.
Sarah Carlin Ames, spokeswoman for Stop the Repeal, a group that advertised the march, said many people responded negatively to the 2003 tax payment. Don McIntire, president of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, took that opportunity to put Measure 26-64 on the ballot to repeal the last two years of the tax.
“This measure,” Ames said, “is a temporary local solution to a bigger problem, which is the state fund of our schools.
According to Multnomah County elections office website, school districts received around $67 million from the county tax during the 2003-2004 schools years. About 70 percent of the county income tax revenues are used to assist county public schools. If Measure 26-64 passes, county schools would lose $90 million for the 2004-2005 school year.
The measure also would also cut the 25 percent revenue created by 26-48 that provides funding for public safety and health and senior services.
Mike Roach, a small business owner, has a daughter at West Sylvan Middle School. He has a vote no on Measure 26-64 sign at his Paloma clothing store.
“There’s a lot at stake here, more then meets the eye,” Roach said of the measure. “People aren’t going to stay in a state that’s seen as crumbling.”
Young students are trying to keep that from happening. 14-year-old Ian Fegan, from Lincoln High School attended the march. He said he was there because “we’re trying to convince people how to vote. Even though I can’t, other people can.”