Stop the Measure 50 Tax Hike – No on Measure 50

In September 2006, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski unveiled a plan to provide health care coverage to children currently not enrolled in Oregon’s Health Plan or who were otherwise uninsured. Called “the Healthy Kids Plan,” the Governor planned to raise the tax on cigarettes by $8.45 a carton.

In 2007, a bill to create and fund the Healthy Kids program was introduced in the Legislature. However, the funding mechanism for the program, a statutory tax increase on tobacco products, failed to gain the required three-fifths needed to pass. Failing to work out an alternative solution to fund the program, Democratic lawmakers introduced it as a constitutional amendment which only required a majority vote to refer the measure to the ballot for a vote of the people. In early August 2007, the Governor signed the bill placing Measure 50 on the November 6, 2007 statewide ballot.  In August 2007, two groups opposing Measure 50, Stop the Measure 50 Tax Hike (Philip Morris) and Oregonians Against the Blank Check (Reynolds) began the arduous process of implementing a campaign to defeat it. The committees were joined by taxpayer and small business groups, retailers and individuals opposed to the tax increase and the use of the Constitution to promote the political agendas of special interest groups. In addition to key ally groups, Stop the Measure 50 Tax Hike recruited a grassroots coalition that numbered over 5,000 individual Oregonians and businesses by the end of the campaign. Philip Morris retained the partners of Redwood Pacific Public Affairs as it had in California for the successful defeat of Prop 86 the previous year.

The partners of RPPA, under the direction of the client team, assembled a campaign team that included public opinion and economic research, legal, outreach and direct mail experts.

From August through Election Day, Stop the Measure 50 Tax Hike conducted a comprehensive campaign in opposition to Measure 50. As our early research had indicated, the more moderate and conservative voters in suburban and rural counties held key to Measure 50. A July, 2007 statewide survey (using the official title language as a vote test), found support for the measure at 68% and opposition at 28%. On Election Day, moderate and conservatives voters had their say and with a turnout in the high 50% range, the final vote was 40% YES and 60% NO. This represents a phenomenal sixty points of movement through the four month campaign (YES dropped 28 points and NO gained 32 points).

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