Does Oregon count as a ‘message,’ too?

DOES OREGON COUNT AS A ‘MESSAGE,’ TOO?…. It’s understandable that policymakers would look to statewide elections to get a sense of the public’s mood. Last week, a narrow majority of Massachusetts voters chose a conservative senator, and the political establishment took that to mean the electorate is shifting to the right.

But if those results offered broader lessons about voters’ attitudes, maybe this week’s results in Oregon do, too.

Facing a budget crunch that threatened to close schools early, lay off teachers and slash healthcare benefits, Oregon voters ended two decades of tax scrimping Tuesday by approving higher taxes on corporations and wealthy families.

The two ballot measures passed handily in a referendum watched closely around the country as a signal of whether voters are ready to approve targeted tax hikes to bail out cash-starved state treasuries.

Oregon voters since 1990 have limited property taxes, rejected sales taxes and vetoed across-the-board income taxes. But with 87% of the ballots counted, the measure to raise income taxes on households earning more than $250,000 a year, and individuals earning more than $125,000, was winning with 54.1%. A second measure to raise the state’s corporate income tax was ahead with 53.6%.

One can only assume that Republicans will see these results, notice that usually-tax-averse voters just endorsed tax increases, and interpret Oregon’s vote as “sending a signal” about the kind of economic policies Americans want to see right now.

Or maybe not.