If ever there was a campaign that relied on a “do it for the kids” message, it was the effort to sell the arts tax to Portland voters.
For $35 each, income-earning taxpayers could help ensure that elementary school students throughout Portland could have access to arts education. The brand new tax, which also raised money for arts groups, passed overwhelmingly in a vote that, in retrospect, many Portlanders would likely want back.
The poor execution of this ill-conceived plan has been well covered, from the exemption of many people with public retirement income to the need to impose an income floor to prevent the collection of arts taxes from teens earning minimal babysitting money. But until now, the problem has been tied to who pays it – not, as the city now maintains, a few hundred school kids who should never have received it.
The city has decided that students at the Ivy School and Southwest K-8 Charter School are not eligible for any arts-tax money collected from Portland taxpayers, according to a report by The Oregonian’s Laura Frazier. Although the law specifically includes public charter schools, the city contends that these two schools, which collectively received only half of an expected $34,000 in 2014, don’t qualify because they received their certification through the state.
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