Measure 28 was a ballot measure, drafted by the Oregon State Legislature and passed to the voters for a special election in January 2003. The measure would temporarily raise the state income tax to pay for services that would otherwise be cut due to a shortfall in State revenues caused by the economic recession of the past two years.
This measure followed a number of other attempts by the state legislature to balance the budget. After some attempts to cut services and a succesful attempt to pass a cigarette tax, the state found itself with a 880 million dollar deficit. Thus, the legislature drafted a tax increase and sent it to the voters. Many people thought this measure was doomed to failure, based on the fact Oregon hadn't increased their income tax since 1930, but as time went on, the measure gathered in support. Although many considered it political suicide, the Democratic candidate for Governor, Ted Kulongoski, endorsed a tax increase. He ended up narrowly winning the election, and between his victory and the special election, political support for the measure increased, both through a grass roots efforts from such groups as the Student Activist Alliance and through an effort organized by several units to canvass for votes, polls showed the measure being split in a dead heat for support.
However, on the date of the special election, the measure was defeated, 45-55. Of Oregon's counties, only a few, such as cosmopolitan Multnomah, and Benton, with the liberal University town of Corvallis; gave the measure support. The failure of the measure to pass means that the budget is going to be so short, that, for instance, the Portland school district is going to be cut so much that it is possible the school year will not actually count on academic transcripts. How the state of Oregon escapes from this situation remains to be seen.