Majority of Portland Public School Board Favor Measure 97

But the board isn't planning to take a formal position on the high-profile corporate tax increase.

Five of the seven Portland Public School Board members support Measure 97, while two don't support it..

But the board is not planning to formally endorse the $3 billion corporate tax hike as a group.

"We're not in the ballot measure endorsing business," says Board Chair Tom Koehler, who favors the measure as means of spurring the legislature to take action on tax reform.

"Individual board members are free to express themselves," he adds.

Advocates of the measure say it will provide needed funds for public education. But the measure is fiercely opposed by businesses and comes at a time when PPS will be seeking campaign donations for their $750 million construction bond.

The school board's approach to endorsing the measure—individually but not as a group—may allay opponents, but Koehler denies that he's being influenced by outside pressure in making the decision about whether to take a position as a board.

At least three school boards across the state have weighed in on the issue: Bend-La Pine School Board opposes it. Coos Bay School Board and Hermiston School Board are for it. The Oregon School Boards Association has decided not to take a position.

Along with Koehler, board members Mike Rosen, Steve Buel, Paul Anthony and Julie Esparza Brown say they favor the measure.

"I am for it with a couple of cautions," says Esparza Brown, noting she wants careful oversight of the way the money is spent. "I think, in particular, communities of color may be suspicious about how the funding is distributed."

Amy Kohnstamm and Pam Knowles don't support the measure.

"Major tax reform should be the job of the legislature and the governor," Kohnstamm says.

Pam Knowles outright opposes the measure.

"This is a measure drafted by the unions and is a direct assault on the business community," Knowles adds.

Clarification: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Kohnstamm says she has taken no official position on the measure.