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Other Views: A reach too far

"Public employees unions run the statehouse," said state Rep. Dennis Richardson, during a 2014 visit to Astoria. The unions assert broad influence on the Democratic side of the Legislature through candidate interviews and campaign funding.

Now the public employees unions are asserting themselves grandly with Initiative Petition 28, the initiative to establish a sales tax on corporations with gross receipts of more than $25 million annually. Paris Achen of our Capital Bureau reported Tuesday that the farm supplies and fuel cooperative Wilco would face a huge increase in its tax liability if IP 28 passes.

Ballot measures are blunt instruments. They are seldom as simple as their proponents make them sound. So what is the reality check on Initiative Petition 28?

The most correct title for the measure is the PERS Bailout Tax. Financial demands of the Public Employees Retirement System will increase the load on school districts and municipalities — causing schools to lay off teachers to fund retirement pensions.

Legislative remedies were thrown out by the Oregon Supreme Court. After that, there was a proposal to require new PERS enrollees to contribute to their retirement, which is common in the private sector. Gov. Kate Brown wouldn't support that.

Revenue raised by IP 28 is the unions' answer to the PERS problem.

The Legislative Revenue Office projects the measure will shrink the private sector and enlarge the public sector. Price increases would hit consumers, as corporations pass on their new tax liability.

Initiative Petition 28 is a reach too far.