Brown, Buehler Tangle Over Health Care Taxes As Oregon Governor’s Race Heats Up

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and a Republican who hopes to replace her — Bend Rep. Knute Buehler — jockeyed for the political high ground on health care taxes Tuesday.

Buehler urged the governor to call a special session this fall. He said that’s needed to head off a potentially high-stakes ballot fight over $320 million in taxes levied by legislators during their recent session on insurers, hospitals and managed care providers.

Brown quickly rejected Buehler’s proposal, saying she’s happy with what the Legislature did.

Three of Buehler’s GOP colleagues are gathering signatures to ask voters to reject the taxes. If they collect the required 59,000 signatures, Oregonians will vote on the issue in January.

Buehler said in a letter to the governor that it is better to “combine the best Democrat ideas with the best Republican ideas to strengthen and improve the Oregon Health Plan.”

He added that the complex issue is “better addressed in the legislative committee room than on a 30-second ad.”

Brown said in a statement that she agreed health care policy “shouldn’t be determined at the ballot box.”

She defended the plan produced by the Legislature and said that Buehler “had six months to put forward a plan and build the support of his colleagues in the Legislature, and he failed to do so.”

Brown faces reelection next year, and Buehler has announced plans to challenge her.

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