Oregon's environment is also on the January ballot

Charlie Burr

Ninety percent of Oregon's budget goes to schools, health care and public safety. But another critical piece -- and one of the reasons the Oregon League of Conservation Voters is strongly behind the campaign for Measures 66 and 67 -- is that the January ballot measures will directly impact Oregon's ability to enforce clean air and water protections.

We can have the strongest environmental protections in the world, but without strong enforcement, those safeguards mean little to Oregon's scenic natural heritage. Potential budget cuts that threaten our ability to hold polluters accountable are another reason to support Measures 66 and 67.

Voting yes on Measures 66 and 67 is a vote for Oregon's clean air, water and renewable energy future.

For the next three months, the Oregon Conservation Network -- a coalition of more than 40 Oregon's leading environmental organizations -- will be working with their 200,000 members on behalf of tax fairness and Oregon's ability to fund our environmental initiatives and priorities.

As part of that effort, later TODAY, NOVEMBER 19th, Oregon League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Jon Isaacs will host a live blog chat over at their Web site for folks to learn more and hear what's at stake. The conversation will run from 4 to 5 p.m.

Get the details over there. And don't forget to send in your questions before 4 p.m. today.

[Disclosure: I serve on OLCV's board and am proud to see their grassroots infrastructure and talent being put to use on behalf of these two critical tax fairness measures.]

Comments

  • todd wynn (unverified)
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    I think I would like to hear a bit more substance.

    What environmental 'initiatives and priorities' are going down because we aren't taxing more money out of recession ridden Oregonians?

    Why do Oregonians value solar panels on I-205 or huge tax breaks for large scale wind developers more than police and education?

    Many people need to understand that environmental quality is a luxury good. Oregonians can only afford it if they have money in their pocket and taxing that money away to afford tax breaks to wind developers in eastern Oregon doesn't seem like a 'solution' to me.

  • patriots1 (unverified)
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    With some of the highest unemployment and economy in the toilet how does the one party Democratic State respond?

    They increase all your State fee's, taxes, and now want to make sure we stay at the top of the National Unemployment list by running all business out of the State. If you have nothing to eat and your Representitive has just voted himself or herself a raise at your expense who would you vote for this next election?

    Keep the change you Democrats! And to all real Oregonians! lets find the Constitution that these crooks have ignored and return it to the Capital!

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    Voting YES on M66/67 is a vote for grandma. Just thought I would get that one out of the way so y'all don't have to.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    So, Kroger is ADDING MORE headcount and program cost in the face of sclining state revenue. Yet one more reason to vote "NO" on 66 and 67.

    The state can get serious about the PERS issue and the governor can address the population NOW about the seriousness of that situation or face the consequences in January. Unfortunately, it is not a matter of "either or". PERS obligations will suck up a majority of these ill concieved tax increases and STILL require cits.

    A government run by leaders would address the issue head on so that the voters would have some confidence and be able to vote accordingly. Unfortunately Oregon will get the same non-performance that we did 5 years ago from the same group of power elite.

  • Jim Houser (unverified)
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    Todd Wynn asks a reasonable question and since Oregon's corporate media is loath to report on this State agency’s environmental initiatives it's not surprising he has to ask. I will give two quick examples of how the failure of Measure's 66 & 67 will negatively impact Oregon's environment (and Oregon's small business community).

    I serve on the advisory board of the Pollution Prevention Outreach Team (P2O), a consortium of Oregon (mostly Portland area, plus DEQ) environmental regulatory agencies. From their mission statement: "To provide coordinated educational messages and technical assistance in pollution prevention to citizens and businesses." P2O has created a voluntary environmental certification program for small, mostly conditionally exempt auto repair and landscape businesses that meet or exceed significant additional standards in the areas of air, water and solid waste emissions reductions. http://www.ecobiz.org/. There is no mulit-media environmental program like this anywhere else in the country. The members of P2O provide technical assistance, site visits, and site certifications for those businesses that qualify. Over 100 auto repair businesses state-wide have met the EcoBiz criteria and been certified. This is true "white hat", technical assistance (TA) work that makes a significant difference to both Oregon’s environment and to the financial well-being of those Oregon businesses that participate. As the program has expanded outside the Portland area DEQ is the agency that has taken on the responsibility of assisting and certifying businesses throughout the State. DEQ's primary statutory responsibility is enforcement. If measures 66 and 67 fail this, and other DEQ TA positions will be eliminated. DEQ’s presence in assisting the Portland area will be reduced and there will no longer be anyone to assist those businesses in the rural areas of the State who want to participate.

    My second example also involves DEQ in their TA role statewide. The EPA has established new rules for body shops that spray paint automobiles, requiring the use of water-borne paints and equipment. This new technology will have a significant impact on the reduction of VOC's (volatile organic compounds) in the air we breathe. DEQ has obtained a specialized piece of equipment to train body shop personnel throughout the State in the proper use of this new technology. This is another DEQ TA role that, if eliminated will have a negative effect on Oregon's small businesses and Oregon's environment.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Getting serious about PERS involves, what exactly? What bright ideas do you have for fixing a system that has been amended so many times that Chapter 238 and 238a take up nearly 80 pages of the Oregon Revised Statutes. Everytime someone "fixes" PERS, the law of unintended consequences arises to make something even worse than before. Jettison the system and start over? Think about $17 billion dollars in current revenue to meet IRS requirements for providing employees with the true value of their accounts including all the contractual elements. That's $17 billion over and above the liquidation of assets not needed to fund the benefits of current retirees who are legally untouchable. If you have any interest in the topic, you should spend some time at our library of all relevant PERS documents assembled over about a 10 year period. It is a fully searchable archive that has all the court decisions, all the briefs, and all the board minutes and agendas not to mention many other items that rarely see the light of day. It is located at http://oregonpers.info . It is easy to suggest PERS reform, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty, the Legislature has created contractual obligations that the courts have ruled repeatedly can't be changed. You can't blame that on the employees or the unions. The PERS benefit system was created before public employee collective bargaining, and virtually all of the issues that represent the major problems of the day aren't the product of collective bargaining. There are a small number of issues that can be fixed, but they won't solve a problem that has taken 60 years to make. The 2003 reforms are turning out to be the biggest nightmare in PERS' history. They are the source of all the current financial difficulties. Out of them came ways for the employers to push obligations further down the road for someone else to pay. Unfortunately, 2008 pretty much left the employers no room to play the game of generational inequity. Maybe it is time for them to stare into the abyss. Just remember that like it or not, the Legislature made PERS sit at the top of the food chain in any bankruptcy proceeding, so it is unlikely that even a municipal or state bankruptcy will do in PERS. They even have the authority to go after property tax revenue, not just general fund revenue. Blame the Legislature for this catastrophe. Don't blame the employees or the unions for trying to hold the line on benefits promised to them in lieu of pay increases.

  • Anita Berber (unverified)
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    Jettison the system and start over?

    Yes.

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