I take up my keyboard today to share with you, dear readers, a very poignant editorial written seven years ago by the Oregonian about the defeat of Ballot Measure 28.
Seven years ago the Oregon Legislature did exactly what some of the leaders of the ‘No on 66 and 67’ campaign, including some self-styled business leaders, are now saying the 2009 Legislature should have done. They sent out a temporary, across-the-board tax increase on all Oregonians, and it was defeated. As a result, we cut 50,000 people from the Oregon Health Plan; we told thousands of seniors and people with disabilities that we no longer considered them disabled enough to receive assistance; and schools closed early all around Oregon.
The Oregonian responded with a very poignant editorial, sections of which are reprinted below. The contrasts between this editorial and today’s editorials are quite astonishing. I hope that the Oregonian’s new publisher, as he familiarizes himself with the state’s and his new paper’s history, takes the time to read the 2003 editorial.
Today, the paper has staked its reputation on the hope that the same business groups that oppose Measures 66 and 67 would throw their weight behind some temporary alternative. Seven years ago, the paper observed that Measure 28 received “little or no encouragement from political and business leaders.” (Emphasis added.)
Today, the editorial board suggests that if 66 and 67 are defeated, the Legislature can somehow avoid painful cuts. Seven years ago, the paper said:
“The Legislature must not waste much time refighting last year's budget battles and the Measure 28 cuts … in the end they have no choice but to cut deeply into core services. Oregonians were warned what would be cut if they defeated Measure 28. Honest government requires that the cuts take effect, pretty much as promised.”
Today, the editorial board has taken a stand against the grass-roots network of parents, seniors, teachers, nurses, child care workers, home health care workers and other activists that are supporting Measures 66 and 67. Seven years ago the paper praised the “hundreds of volunteers working phone banks -- and the panicked voices of Oregonians in news stories about to lose their care, shelter or other services provided by the state” for making the result in the Measure 28 vote closer than anyone expected.
There are, of course, a couple of differences between Measures 66 and 67 and Measure 28. Measure 28 was an across-the-board tax increase on middle-class Oregonians, and, being purely temporary, would not, in the long run, have done much to reverse our 20 years of disinvestment in public services. Measures 66 and 67 raise taxes on rich people and corporations, and, being partly permanent, are a step toward reversing that trend. Oh, and Measure 28 lost; Measures 66 and 67 are going to win.
Here are the key passages of that editorial. Read it and weep.
Source: THE OREGONIAN
Wednesday,January 29, 2003
Edition: SUNRISE, Section: EDITORIAL, Page B10 Wednesday, January 29, 2003 OREGONIANS MAKE A PAINFUL CHOICE
MEASURE 28 IS DEFEATED, BUT VOTERS DELIVER A MESSAGE TO LAWMAKERS ABOUT HOW HIGHLY THEY VALUE PUBLIC SERVICES
Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians voted to raise their taxes Tuesday -- even during a recession, even with little or no encouragement from political and business leaders -- to protect schools and other public services.
This voter support for an income tax increase in Oregon wasn't nearly enough to push Measure 28 over the top -- unofficial counts last night showed the measure failing by about 10 percentage points. But the near-record turnout for a special election and the relatively close vote should alter Salem's budget and tax reform debate.
That debate should no longer be about the least that Oregon can do for its public schools, its human services and its public safety. Oregonians didn't vote that way Tuesday.
Yet the budget ax is now going to fall. Most of the burden will land on some of Oregon's most vulnerable -- the mentally ill, the elderly and children …
Oregon Republican Party Chairman Kevin Mannix sent out a taped message to 290,000 Republicans saying that the Legislature didn't really have to cut the budget if Measure 28 failed. As Multnomah County begins releasing inmates, as state police proceed with layoffs, as school districts begin slashing school days, don't sit by your phone waiting for Mannix's next call.
The Legislature must not waste much time refighting last year's budget battles and the Measure 28 cuts … in the end they have no choice but to cut deeply into core services. Oregonians were warned what would be cut if they defeated Measure 28. Honest government requires that the cuts take effect, pretty much as promised.
Even as recently as a month ago, as polls showed Measure 28 with only about 35 percent of the vote, the conventional wisdom was that the measure had no chance of passing. Everything was stacked against it. The timing was awful: Oregon was still locked in recession, suffering from the nation's highest unemployment rate, and the ballots showed up in mailboxes side by side with Christmas bills …
The low-budget campaign for Measure 28 came down to hundreds of volunteers working phone banks -- and the panicked voices of Oregonians in news stories about to lose their care, shelter or other services provided by the state.
Even with all that, a substantial number of Oregonians were willing to have their state become the first in the nation to approve a general tax increase to help offset plunging revenues caused by the national recession. The vote is a positive counter-message to all those people who continually insist that the only way to balance the state budget is to slash services and force Oregon to keep racing to the bottom.
We badly wanted this election to show that change is possible, that Oregonians want something other than the shortest school year in the nation, the highest college tuition in the West or the smallest force of state troopers in modern Oregon history …
in this election, in 2010, we – the supporters of Measures 66 and 67 - are going
to show that change is possible. We are going to show that Oregonians don’t
want a shorter school year, a shredded social safety net, or further cuts to
We’re going to fulfill the Oregonian’s dream. It’s too bad we’ll have to do it without the Oregonian.