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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.

Group Seeking Corporate Tax Hike Ramps Up Petition Drive

Oregon DOT

The union-backed group that's seeking to increase taxes on some of Oregon's largest corporations is ramping up its signature collection efforts this weekend.

The initiative would hike taxes on companies with more than $25 million in Oregon sales. Legislative analysts say it could turn out to be the largest tax hike in Oregon history. It's backed by the group Our Oregon, which is funded in large part by public employee unions.

But the state's leading elected officials aren't on board yet. Senate President Peter Courtney warned it could spark one of the bloodiest political battles in recent Oregon history. Another Democrat, Governor Kate Brown, told reporters this week that although she thinks Oregon needs more revenue, she hasn't made up her mind whether to support the proposed tax hike.

"Sometimes issues are not so easy as they seem,” the governor said. “And I would argue that this is one of them."

Business groups have called the proposal "deeply flawed" and have vowed to raise money to defeat it, should it make the November ballot.

Sponsors have until July to submit 88,000 valid signatures.