One Oregon county voted for free preschool—and won

Oregon's Multnomah County is going to fund preschool by raising taxes on individuals making more than $125K.

One Oregon county voted for free preschool—and won
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During his campaign, presidential candidate Joe Biden presented a plan for free preschool for every 3 and 4-year-old in America. The day after the election we don't yet know if Biden will be president or not, but for one county in Oregon, free preschool is coming with or without a Biden victory.

Through Ballot Measure 26-214, the people of Multnomah County voted for free preschool for 3 and 4-year-olds, paid for by taxing higher-income earners. As Oregon Public Broadcasting reports, the "measure will levy an additional 1.5% income tax on individuals earning more than $125,000 and couples making over $200,000."


That's the first step. Then, in 2026, the taxes for those top income earners will go up again. After 2026, individuals making over $125,000 and couples making over $250,000 will see the tax rate for the measure go from 1.5% to 2.3% Residents who make even more ($250,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples) will pay an additional 1.5%.

Critics worry that the passing of the Preschool for All measure will mean people in Multnomah County who make over $250,000 a year will now pay the highest personal income taxes of any high-income earners in the United States. But the people of the county have spoken, and they want children to have access to free preschool. The measure passed by 64%.

According to OregonLive, county Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson has been advocating for this for years. The higher taxes will not only get more lower-income kids in preschool, but they will help raise wages for early childhood educators.

We know that free preschool programs have huge benefits for children and for mothers. When D.C. brought in free preschool, the city's maternal workforce participation rate increased by more than 10%. In a year when so many mothers have lost paid work, Multnomah County may have just presented a plan to get moms back in the workforce.

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