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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

On Tax Day, Oregon Lawmakers Consider A Sales Tax

Richard Masoner

SALEM, Ore. – One of the most politically sensitive topics in Oregon is up for debate at the state capitol Monday. Lawmakers will hold a hearing on whether to ask Oregon voters to approve a sales tax. The timing of the tax hearing is no coincidence. 

April 15. Tax day.

Oregon is one of five states without a sales tax. The state relies heavily on income taxes, and critics say that leaves Oregon vulnerable to economic ups and downs.

But voters have repeatedly rejected a sales tax over the past century, and politicians love to either distance themselves from it during campaign season or paint their opponents as being in favor of it.

John Kitzhaber was the target of the latter in a 2010 campaign ad. The Democrat is now governor and says a sales tax is just one possible part of a comprehensive overhaul to the state's tax structure.

One of the lawmakers behind the measure, Democratic representative Tobias Read, says the hearing is meant to be a conversation starter.

On the Web:

SJR 36: Sales tax proposal - Oregon Legislature 
Map: State and local sales tax rates - Tax Foundation