PBA president fights PSU payroll tax

Portland Business Alliance President Sandra McDonough filed a petition against the proposed Portland State University payroll tax.

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The proposal, a one-tenth of one percent tax on wages paid by employers for businesses performed in the Metro regional government’s service area, would collect between $35 million and $40 million annually for PSU student scholarships, more faculty positions and advisers. Metro’s service area includes a population of more than 1.5 million people in Portland, and parts of Washington and Clackamas County.

According to McDonough’s complaint, the proposal “is administrative and exceeds Metro’s jurisdiction.”

Backers of the payroll tax also filed a challenge Wednesday, arguing that Metro, which had the job of submitting the ballot title and description, failed to approve clear and accurate language. The ballot language “does not plainly phrase the chief purpose” of the proposal and misstates other key aspects of the proposed legislation, according to co-chief petitioner Peter Zuckerman.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

Only PSU would have access to the payroll tax funds. Legislators have taken steps to prevent all seven Oregon public universities from receiving similar resources.

The Portland Business Alliance and Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, teamed up recently to advance legislation that would make it illegal for any of Oregon’s seven public universities from receiving money from a payroll tax imposed by a ‘metropolitan service district,’ Andrew Theen of The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. But Oregon has just one such service district: Metro, Portland’s regional government, which would collect money on behalf of PSU.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)