If a majority of the Oregon Legislature thinks a tax is needed to support an important program, or that a tax break for a powerful interest ought to be stopped, or that an outdated tax should be updated, lawmakers should be allowed to make the change. That’s why we elect them.
If a majority of the Oregon Legislature think unanticipated revenues ought to be saved for a rainy day or devoted to a one-time investment that will reap long-term rewards for Oregonians, lawmakers ought to be allowed to take such action. That’s why we elect them.
But majority rule does not apply in Oregon on these important issues. Instead, a minority of the Legislature can hold the majority hostage. How can that be? Oregon voters gave the power to small factions of the Legislature when they voted to require a three-fifths (3/5) majority to raise taxes (36 instead of 31 in the House and 18 instead of 16 in the Senate) and a two-thirds (2/3) majority to spend unanticipated tax revenues (40 votes in the House, 20 in the Senate). In other words, fractions of the Legislature can hold a majority hostage.
Five and two. That’s how many more than a simple majority in the Oregon House and Senate can stop the majority in the Oregon Legislature from eliminating a tax break or fixing an outdated tax code problem like Oregon’s 76 year-old, $10-a-year corporate minimum tax.
Sheketoff thinks the legislature on to refer the 3/5th majority rule back to the voters. I think that's a good start. Further than that we need to send a message to recalcitrant Republicans in the legislature that elections have consequences. I believe an infamous Republican President was the first to make that observation.