Will the last to leave please turn out the lights?

The Oregon Legislature has just completed the largest tax increase in history. This tax program will prolong the recession in the state and drive our most productive citizens and business out of the state.

What are they thinking? Are they trying to emulate California, where business and jobs are fleeing at an unprecedented rate?

Of course the budget cutting in Salem is a total sham. They wouldn't think of having the public employee union folks pay a part of their health-care plan, which might reduce the campaign contributions that keep the Democratic party in power.

They spent $75 million of "stimulus funds" for a net of 130 jobs to date. Possibly they cut the $700,000 used to keep prison inmates in Coca Cola.

They wouldn't dare audit the Department of Human Services, where the department has no idea of a budget or what happened to the money. All they know is they need more money and the Legislature complies.

Oregon now has the highest personal income tax in the nation, even higher than New York. We also have the second highest unemployment in the nation, but your Legislature is striving to be no. 1.

Most onerous of all, the Legislature has established a "gross receipts tax," which will tax business even if it does not make a profit. If you are going to start a business and it will not make a profit for a couple of years, Oregon is going to tax you anyway! Who is going to establish a business and provide jobs in Oregon when you can go to another state and avoid that tax?

We taxpayers all paid for our governor to go to Japan and lobby Nissan and others to build electric cars in Oregon. Dream on, Ted! Why in the world would a company build a plant in business hostile, unionized, tax-happy Oregon when they can build in low-tax, low-cost North Carolina or Mississippi? I hope Ted enjoyed the sushi, because that's all he is going to get.

The concept that lower taxes create business activity which increases tax revenue is totally lost on these legislators. They don't understand that people can vote with their feet. Recently, I have spoken to a number of people who are now looking at moving themselves and their businesses to other states: Washington, Nevada, or Utah; one has 150 employees.

I don't need a crystal ball to see that in a year or so the Legislature will look at their handiwork and, what a shock! The revenue didn't meet their projections!

Like California, Oregon will begin a death spiral into more debt and the departure of more businesses to other states. Lights out in Oregon, good night!

Lee Topham of Talent has been a businessman for 50 years across the western states.

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