A while back I engaged in a whole series of blogs that tried to investigate the question: should Oregon have a sales tax? I learned a lot from that exercise. But due the particular quirks of the current economic crisis it just may be that we are very lucky to have what we have.
I have heard it stated, by no less than Oregon's Chief Economist Tom Potiowsky, that currently Oregon's revenues are in good shape relative to other states thanks to our reliance on income taxes. Contrast this with Washington which relies on sales taxes and is resorting to fairly draconian measures to deal with their budget crisis.
The basic theory is this: right now consumers are retrenching and consumption spending has dropped dramatically, aided in part by falling home values. Unemployment is rising, but not by nearly as much as consumption is falling. So, this time at least, we are fortunate to rely on income taxes and not sales taxes.
Is this theory supported by the facts? Perhaps. The BEAs national figures seems to support it - personal income is stagnating but consumption is plunging.
Of course, new data out today show Oregon's unemployment surging to 7.3% so this trend might not last for long. I don't think state personal income figures are out yet, so we'll have to wait and see.
Of course time can change everything as well, as we recover from this recession it may be that consumption spending picks up faster than incomes. But given the nature of the bubble that burst, it is hard to say. Also, if federal stimulus includes lots of job creation, Oregon might again be well positioned.
Food for thought. Comments?