Non-profit

Our Oregon

Website:

ouroregon.org/

Location:

PORTLAND, OR

Tax ID:

65-1247426

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $1,264,282
Expenses: $1,128,690
Assets: $195,655

Executive Director:

Ben Unger

Formation:

2005

Our Oregon is a labor union-funded advocacy organization that aims to institute left-wing economic policy in the state of Oregon, specifically to promote the expansion of government education and government control of healthcare. The group is a major supporter of left-wing ballot initiative campaigns, providing over $1.4 million to ballot committees since 2006. [1]

Our Oregon has been behind some of the largest anti-business policy pushes in the state since its foundation in 2005, including 2016 Measure 97, a failed attempt to enact a substantial business tax increase which drew criticism from across the political spectrum.

Members of Our Oregon senior staff and board members have ties to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, a state-level advocacy affiliate of Planned Parenthood. [2]

Activity

Most of Our Oregon’s activity is concentrated on budget issues, specifically by proposing state ballot measures or combatting those supported by Oregon’s business community. Our Oregon has been at the helm of some of the most controversial ballot measures in state history. In addition to fighting to increase corporate taxes, Our Oregon has backed measures such as raising the minimum wage and joined several far-left anti-business coalitions, including Defend Oregon, A Better Oregon, and Keep Oregon Working. [3] [4] [5]

Measures 66 and 67

Free-market activists introduced measures 66 and 67 to attempt to overturn a legislative hike in income taxes on households making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $125,000 during the 2010 election cycle. [6] Measure 67 aimed to generate a $261 million tax increase for corporations over two years during a recession, which was predicted to drive businesses out of Oregon. [7]

A “yes” vote upheld the tax increases; most of the funding for a “yes” vote came from labor unions and labor-union backed groups like Our Oregon, with Common Cause estimating that the union side had a funding advantage of $6.85 million to $4.55 million. [8] In 2010, both ballot initiatives passed in the state election.

Measure 97

In 2016, Our Oregon headed up a ballot measure to tax corporations at $2.6 million per year, the largest tax hike in Oregon state history and expand the government by increasing the state’s general fund by 27 percent. [9] Ben Unger, a former Oregon State Representative and executive director of Our Oregon, stated that Measure 97 would “make the big corporations pay” with the tax increases. [10]

The proposal grew criticism from both the right and the left, with the head of the nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office explaining that the measure would slow job growth and increase the average per-person tax bill by $600, burdening mostly low and middle income Oregon citizens. [11] In response to this report, Our Oregon commissioned its own report from economists at Portland State University for $45,000. [12]

The Portland State report was largely consistent with the LRO report, revealing that the tax would result in 13,500 fewer private sector jobs by 2027 and arguing that businesses would be likely to raise prices, hurting those in lower and middle classes most. [13] Dissatisfied with the Portland State University results, members of Our Oregon pressured the economists to edit the report by incorporating unusual variables to make the tax seem more favorable and called on Portland State economists to consult with Our Oregon before making any statements on the tax. [14]

Our Oregon sponsored the campaign to get signatures to get the initiative onto the ballot, but Measure 97 was defeated in the November 8, 2016. [15]

Initiative Petitions 38 and 39

Initiative Petition 38 and Initiative Petition 39 were initiatives aimed to amend the Oregon state constitution to allow the Legislature to approve new corporate taxes by simple majority vote, rather than a three-fifths vote in 2017. [16] The petitions were filed in response to Initiative Petition 31, a ballot petition which aimed to protect the necessity of achieving a three-fifths majority to raise taxes. The petitions aimed to make it easier to tax corporations by only requiring a simple majority vote to increase or create new taxes. [17]

Our Oregon was not able to raise the necessary signatures to get IP 38 and 39 on the ballot in 2018, but IP 31, which became Measure 104, made the ballot. Our Oregon contributed $269,824 to Defend Oregon, a ballot measure committee that opposed Measure 104 and Measure 103 which would have banned state and local grocery taxes. [18] Both Measures 103 and 104 failed.

People and Funding

Almost all of Our Oregon’s funding comes from grants and contributions. In 2016, Our Oregon reported receiving $2,452,332 in funding from grants alone. [19] Reports filed with the Department of Labor show substantial contributions from labor unions to Our Oregon, with notable contributions coming from SEIU Local 503 and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Oregon State Council (Council 75). [20]

The Our Oregon board consists of Oregon political activists with deep ties to labor unions and the Democratic Party. Members include Jennifer Baker, the Labor and Workforce Policy Advisor in Democratic Governor Kate Brown’s administration, and Graham Trainor, the legislative director of the Oregon AFL-CIO union federation. [21][22][23] Other members include Joe Baessler of the Oregon American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Mary Nolan, the former Democratic Majority Leader of the Oregon House of Representative and former executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. [24] [25]

Benjamin Unger serves on the board of Our Oregon and was also the organization’s executive director from 2014-2018. Unger served as a Democratic representative in the Oregon State House from 2012-2015. [26] [27] In 2018, Becca Uherbelau repaced Unger. Uherbelau is a former teachers’ union worker and chair of the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon board. [28]

References

  1. “Entity Details-OUR OREGON .” FollowTheMoney.org. Accessed October 4, 2019. https://www.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=14843. ^
  2. “Introducing Becca Uherbelau, Our Oregon’s New Executive Director.” Our Oregon, May 14, 2018. http://www.ouroregon.org/becca-uherbelau-our-oregons-new-executive-director/. ^
  3. Rosales, Melanni. “Raise the Wage.” Our Oregon. Accessed September 26, 2019. http://www.ouroregon.org/priorities/raise-the-wage/. ^
  4. Rosales, Melanni. “Keep Oregon Working.” Our Oregon. Accessed September 26, 2019. http://www.ouroregon.org/priorities/keep-oregon-working/. ^
  5. Rosales, Melanni. “A Better Oregon.” Our Oregon. Accessed September 26, 2019. http://www.ouroregon.org/priorities/a-better-oregon/. ^
  6. Rizo, Chris. “Oregon Voters OK Business Tax Increase.” Legal Newsline, January 27, 2010. https://web.archive.org/web/20130117083524/http://legalnewsline.com/news/225260-oregon-voters-ok-business-tax-increase. ^
  7. Rizo, Chris. “Oregon Voters OK Business Tax Increase.” Legal Newsline, January 27, 2010. https://web.archive.org/web/20130117083524/http://legalnewsline.com/news/225260-oregon-voters-ok-business-tax-increase. ^
  8. “Tax Vote Outcome ‘Oregon Being Oregon’.” The Columbian, January 27, 2010. https://www.columbian.com/news/2010/jan/27/tax-vote-outcome-oregon-being-oregon/. ^
  9. Borrud, Hillary. “Tension behind Study of $3 Billion Corporate Tax Measure, Records Show.” The Oregonian, July 27, 2016. https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2016/07/corporate_tax_measure_backers.html. ^
  10. Borrud, Hillary. “Tension behind Study of $3 Billion Corporate Tax Measure, Records Show.” The Oregonian, July 27, 2016. https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2016/07/corporate_tax_measure_backers.html. ^
  11. Friedman, Gordon. “A Closer Look at Economic Research on Measure 97.” Statesman Journal. Statesman Journal, September 12, 2016. https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/politics/2016/09/11/closer-look-economic-research-measure-97/89941110/. ^
  12. Borrud, Hillary. “Tension behind Study of $3 Billion Corporate Tax Measure, Records Show.” The Oregonian, July 27, 2016. https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2016/07/corporate_tax_measure_backers.html. ^
  13. Borrud, Hillary. “Tension behind Study of $3 Billion Corporate Tax Measure, Records Show.” The Oregonian, July 27, 2016. https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2016/07/corporate_tax_measure_backers.html. ^
  14. Borrud, Hillary. “Tension behind Study of $3 Billion Corporate Tax Measure, Records Show.” The Oregonian, July 27, 2016. https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2016/07/corporate_tax_measure_backers.html. ^
  15. “November 8, 2016, General Election Abstract of Votes.” Secretary of State of Oregon, 2016. https://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/results/november-2016-results.pdf ^
  16. Achen, Paris. “Our Oregon Files Tax Initiatives.” The Astorian, December 10, 2018.

    https://www.dailyastorian.com/news/state/our-oregon-files-tax-initiatives/article_aaea4c75-fe1c-5a85-a251-388f42610c33.html. ^

  17. Achen, Paris. “Our Oregon Files Tax Initiatives.” The Astorian, December 10, 2018.

    https://www.dailyastorian.com/news/state/our-oregon-files-tax-initiatives/article_aaea4c75-fe1c-5a85-a251-388f42610c33.html. ^

  18. “Show Me OUR OREGON Contributions to Candidates and Committees (within Federal, State and Local Data) .” FollowTheMoney.org. Accessed October 4, 2019. https://www.followthemoney.org/show-me?d-eid=14843#[{1|gro=m-t-eid,y. ^
  19. “Our Oregon.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2016. Part Eight, Section 1a. ^
  20. Data compiled by the Department of Labor Office of Labor Management Standards from annual reports of labor organizations. Queries conducted October 4, 2019. ^
  21. “Our Oregon.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2016. Part Seven, Section A. ^
  22. “Governor Kate Brown.” State of Oregon. Accessed September 26, 2019. https://www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/staff.aspx. ^
  23. “OR AFL’s Elana Guiney Leaves for Governor’s Office.” nwLaborPress, December 12, 2014. https://nwlaborpress.org/2014/12/orafl-elana-guiney-governors-office/. ^
  24. “Our Oregon.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2016. Part Seven, Section A. ^
  25. Hayes, Elizabeth. “Nolan Announces Retirement from Planned Parenthood Advocates.” Portland Business Journal, August 31, 2017. https://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2017/08/31/nolan-announces-retirement-from-planned-parenthood.html. ^
  26. “Our Oregon.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2016. Part Seven, Section A. ^
  27. “Ben Unger.” Ballotpedia, 2019. https://ballotpedia.org/Ben_Unger. ^
  28. “Introducing Becca Uherbelau, Our Oregon’s New Executive Director.” Our Oregon, May 14, 2018. http://www.ouroregon.org/becca-uherbelau-our-oregons-new-executive-director/. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 2005

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,264,282 $1,128,690 $195,655 $1,469 N $1,041,853 $222,220 $209 $99,840
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,679,681 $2,652,332 $63,893 $5,299 N $2,452,332 $227,188 $161 $107,820
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,450,511 $1,591,901 $36,972 $9,227 N $1,400,298 $50,000 $213 $104,009 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,512,347 $1,493,860 $170,314 $1,179 N $1,285,131 $226,425 $291 $53,867 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,143,674 $1,212,647 $152,224 $1,576 N $978,438 $164,873 $363 $122,918 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,483,577 $1,412,595 $234,411 $14,790 N $1,284,268 $192,038 $371 $105,067 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $1,339,173 $1,288,113 $153,309 $4,670 N $1,160,258 $178,113 $802 $104,140 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $1,099,237 $1,207,937 $102,119 $4,540 N $952,009 $147,228 $0 $138,306 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Our Oregon

    618 NW GILSAN ST STE 203
    PORTLAND, OR 97209-0000