Election Watch: Salem-Keizer, OR Payroll Tax Increase for Transit

salem-orUp for election in November is a ballot measure to levy a payroll tax to fund more frequent bus service in Salem, Oregon. (By the way, proposing a local business payroll tax increase to fund transit is the first instance I’ve ever seen.  This must only work in beautiful places.)  Transit leaders in this community of about 160,000 have approved a ballot measure that calls for a 0.21 percent business payroll tax levy that is estimated to bring in about $5M per year. This new revenue is expected to fund more weekend service, later weekend service, holiday service, and even help implement a student bus pass program.

Already it appears proponents are checking all the necessary boxes to make sure voters are made aware of this ballot measure.  Leaders have even put this election with a catchy transportationy-sounding moniker signaling progress (“Moving Forward“), which seems to be a trend for transportation ballot measures these days.  While a quick Google search hasn’t yielded any mobilized opposition to this measure as of yet, the risks to this measure at this point seem to be most likely to come from the business community since they are the ones that will be taxed. Like the massive proposition in Phoenix, this will also likely be one election to watch closely.

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