State Rep. Peter Buckley will address the School Board on Monday night, as the board decides whether to support Measures 66 and 67, which would increase Oregon taxes to pay for education, health care and public safety.
If the measures fail, state budget cuts would leave Ashland School District with $1.35 million less in funding, according to district documents. The Ashland Democrat, who served as co-chair of the Legislature's Ways and Means Committee in the 2009 session, supports the tax increases.
"If the measures fail, and if the Legislature has to cut nearly $1 billion from the 2009-11 budget, those cuts will have to come from core services including education, health care and public safety," Buckley wrote in a Nov. 18 editorial in Salem's Statesman Journal. "There's nowhere else to make such deep cuts. So the facts are clear — if these measures fail, those named services will be at risk."
At the 7 p.m. Monday meeting in the City Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St., the board will vote on whether to publicly support the measures.
School Board Chairman Keith Massie said he supports the tax increases.
"I think it's a chance to reaffirm the community's commitment to a lot of services," he said. "By voting yes, if you're a business owner, you're saying, 'I'm willing to pay a little bit more money to support education in the state of Oregon."
Some Oregon business owners oppose the tax increase, saying it comes at a time when they are barely scraping by financially.
If the measures pass, they would raise the $10 corporate minimum tax to $150 and ask households earning over $250,000 — or individuals earning over $125,000 — to pay more in taxes.
The tax increases have already been factored in to the state's 2009-11 budget.
Opponents of the increases gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the Jan. 26 ballot, giving voters an opportunity to weigh in on the matter.
If the measures don't pass, district administrators will have to make even deeper budget cuts than they made this spring, as state funding for education decreased due to the recession. The district's $22 million budget for this school year is 15 percent lower than the previous year's.
Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.