The challengers had tried to argue that the proposed ballot language was imprecise and that the tax, technically, was a head tax—which would run afoul of the state constitution. But Judge John A. Wittmayer, according to a statement by Creative Advocacy Network, the group that helped lobby Portland City Council into approving the measure in June, said he clearly thought the measure was an income tax. And he only ordered one small change in wording in the title: replacing the word "capped" with "of."
“The proposed tax at issue here is not a head tax or a poll tax because it is not assessed per capita—it is assessed only upon income-earning individuals age 18 or older in households above the federal poverty guidelines," Wittmayer was quoted as saying.
The ballot title, which isn't yet official, will read: “Shall Portland restore arts, music for schools and fund arts through income tax of 35 dollars per year?”
Clearing away this legal roadblock is a big deal for arts advocates who rightly point out the very dismal state of arts funding in our schools and who also note polls showing widespread support for the tax plan.
“We appreciate this decision and are glad the measure can go forward so that the citizens of this city can decide for themselves," Mayor Sam Adams, a huge proponent of the measure, said in a statement. "Today just two out of 10 elementary schools have an art teacher, and nearly 12,000 Portland students have no art, music, dance or drama in school stimulate economic development. National research links access to arts and music education to improved test scores, graduation rates and college admittance. This measure is also essential to our ability to develop a workforce equipped with the creative thinking and problem solving skills necessary to compete in a modern economy.”
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