With help from Oregon AFSCME
and its members, an initiative to reform the corporate "kicker" law in Oregon
is headed to the ballot this fall. Initiative supporters turned in over 200,000
signatures, almost twice as many as needed to qualify.
Council 75 was a sponsor of
the measure, along with a long list of other organizations, and Oregon AFSCME
members helped collect signatures. The initiative will reform the corporate
kicker by designating those funds into Oregon K-12 schools, rather than sending
it to large, out-of-state corporations. As much as 80 percent of the corporate
kicker money goes to corporations that are headquartered outside of Oregon.
In turn, by having that
money designated to schools, it should help free up some General Fund money for
other state agencies dependent on the General Fund, such as the Department of
Corrections, for one, where AFSCME represents over 3,000 workers.
"Thank you to all the many
volunteers who helped us get here!" said Patrick Green, the Executive Director
of Our Oregon, which spearheaded the campaign. "But as we move toward the
November election, we'll need your help again to talk to your friends and
neighbors about the need to fund our schools."
Green said Oregonians from around the state
signed on to support the initiative because they've seen the daily impact of
the school-funding crisis. Students are crammed into overcrowded classrooms,
thousands of teachers have been laid off and schools are closing. At the same
time, the state is losing billions of dollars to tax breaks, many to
"Across the state, parents know that we've got
to get serious about putting money into our schools," says the Oregon PTA's
Otto Schell. "This is the first step toward prioritizing our students and
schools, and giving them the support they deserve."
This measure does not change the personal
kicker law, which returns money to individual taxpayers.
In addition to AFSCME, the
corporate kicker measure is supported by a broad coalition that includes the
Oregon PTA, the Oregon Education Association, Basic Rights Oregon, Partnership
for Safety and Justice, Tax Fairness Oregon, Alliance for Democracy, Ecumenical
Ministries of Oregon and others.
Once the Secretary of
State's office verifies that enough signatures are valid, which should not be a
problem in this case, the initiative will be assigned a ballot measure number
for this fall's Nov. 6 Oregon General Election. As a constitutional measure, it
needs 116,284 valid signatures to make the ballot. There could be as many as
eight other statewide measures on the ballot this year.