Multnomah County Voters Enthusiastically Pass Tuition-Free Preschool Measure

A new income tax on high wage earners will fund a program for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Walking to preschool in Southeast Portland. (Brian Burk)

Multnomah County voters tonight easily approved a novel mechanism to pay for preschool for thousands of low-income children.

With a majority of votes counted at 9 pm, the measure was comfortable ahead, by a 64% to 36% margin.

Measure 26-214 will levy a 1.5% tax on individuals who make more than $125,000 and another 1.5% on county residents who earn more than $250,000. That rate could rise another 0.8% in 2026, depending on the needs of the program, which the county expects to be serving 7,000 new students by that time.

The measure's success marks the second time this year that a local government has enacted an income tax, which historically is the province of state government. In the earlier instance, the Metro Council passed a 1% income tax to fund homeless services.

Opponents of the preschool measure have noted that it will raise the combined tax on the highest income earners in Multnomah County to the highest rate in the country—but Measure 26-214's success shows that a majority of county voters believe a redistribution of income from the top to the bottom is in order.

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