Measure 48: Funded out-of-state and fatally flawed

Russell Sadler

Measure 48 is tarted up to look like a homegrown Oregon initiative, but it’s not. It contains the same fatal assumption that caused Colorado voters to suspend a similar provision in their state constitution in the last election.

Measure 48 is modeled on the far right “anti-taxers” current ideological darling -- The Taxpayers Bill of Rights or TABOR.

The author of Measure 48 is Don McIntire, who also authored Measure 5, which shifted Oregon’s school financing from locally raised property taxes to state income tax revenues when voters approved it in 1990.

But this time, McIntire is just a front for national interest groups using the initiative process to “shrink government.” These groups range from Americans for Tax Reform, headed by lobbyist Grover Norquist, now implicated in the Abramoff scandal in Washington, D.C. to Americans For Limited Government, headed by Howard Rich, a wealthy New York real estate investor who has given millions to libertarian causes. Rich’s organization put up more than 85 percent of the money McIntire has spent to put Measure 48 on the ballot and promote it so far.

Measure 48 limits all state spending to a formula based on the rate of inflation and population growth -- presently estimated at 5 percent. And that’s the measure’s fatal flaw. The assumption that no category of government should grow by more than annual inflation and the state’s population growth is wrong.

For example, under Measure 48, the Oregon Department of Transportation cannot increase spending on highway construction and maintenance by more than 5 percent, even if there is more money available in the constitutionally dedicated gas tax fund. Population growth is irrelevant -- there are more vehicles than people in Oregon -- and while inflation is a factor, highway maintenance costs are really driven by the dates highways were constructed and the cost of rebuilding them. Oregon’s freeways were built in the 1950s-60s. They are now at the end of their designed life span and substantial spending increases are required to modernize them.

Most of Oregon’s municipal sewage systems were enlarged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Oregon’s population has doubled since they were built. Oregon’s population is expected to double in the next 30 years, but money needs to be spent enlarging sewage treatment capacity before the population arrives, not after.

Oregon’s spending on the elderly exceeds inflation and population growth, because the large post-World War II baby boom generation is getting elderly and exceeds the growth of the general population.

Federal laws that require special education for learning disabled children and “No Child Left Behind” testing increase local school costs but provide little or no money to pay for it. The money must come from state income tax revenue and these unfunded mandates have no relation to inflation or population growth.

The spending limits in Measure 48 are simply based on an arbitrary and unrealistic formula. Supporters of Measure 48 argue it has an “escape hatch” if the legislature wants to exceed the spending limit -- a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the Legislature plus a majority vote of the people. These are deliberately impossible hurdles. The supermajority allows a minority of one-third plus one to hold a majority of the state’s elected representatives hostage.

This follows a “conservative” trend of deliberately crippling representative government by requiring supermajorities in initiatives to make it difficult, even impossible, for elected representatives to reflect the changing attitudes of their constituents. Conservatives want to “lock in” their currently fashionable ideological dogma. One of the purposes of representative government is reflecting constituents’ changing opinions when lawmakers make decisions about spending priorities. The provisions of Measure 48 are an attack on a basic assumption of our form of government.

There is an irony about Measure 48 that has escaped most commentators. Don McIntire, its author, is one of two people who are single-handedly responsible for two of the state’s biggest spending increases in the last 16 years.

McIntire’s Measure 9 raised the state’s biennial budget by billions of dollars overnight by shifting school costs from local property taxers to state income tax revenues.

The other person responsible for budget-busting was Kevin Mannix, the sponsor of Measure 11, the mandatory sentencing initiative. Mannix’ conservative colleagues refused to pass his legislation because they could not figure out how they would pay for billions of dollars to build and operate prisons.

Voters approved Measure 11 in 1994 anyway. Lawmakers borrowed the money to build and operate prisons. Taxpayers are still paying off the debt and the rising interest costs are included in Measure 48’s spending limit

Oregon does not need a spending limit. It needs a limit on initiatives that require new state spending without including the revenue to pay for it. Mannix has paid for his sins. He’s a three time loser in statewide races. But McIntire is still selling his snake oil. Perhaps we should set term limits on the sponsors of initiative petitions.

  • Silence Dogood (unverified)

    Russell neglected to mention that the No on 48 campaign is funded 95% by government unions.

    And that when it comes to campaign finance, what matters is a) disclosure and b) interest.

    Yes on 48 has disclosed fully but No on 48 brought in $2 million from the NEA to the OEA this spring that was never reported and never will be.

    Yes on 48 supporters stand to gain nothing - no more than the average Oregonian - except the general benefit of a brighter economic future. But No on 48's government union lobbyists stands to lose a lot from putting the voters in charge of overspending decisions - control over the >$40 billion budget in Salem.

    For readers interested in what Measure 48 is - rather than what it isn't - check the proponents' message. And read the amendment. Find it at the Measure 48 blog.

  • (Show?)

    Yes on 48 has disclosed fully but No on 48 brought in $2 million from the NEA to the OEA this spring that was never reported and never will be.

    So, how exactly do you know that your statement is true?

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    I'll admit up front, I have a dog in this fight. I am a public school teacher. Yes, I belong to my union (and proud of it). The so-called TABOR amendment, aka Oregon Measure 48, does NOT contain any language providing for a rainy day fund. Sponsors TABOR know it is a bad bill of goods, and must try to trick voters by promising anything other than what the Measure actually contains. In fact, they are using "Myspace" to advertise...and actually linking to their animated cartoon that includes reference to the University of Oregon, copyrighted characters from a mob show (including a segment where a union member is struck on the head), and misinformation.

    Rainy Day Cartoon

    I'm just trying to figure out why the folks supporting this measure who send this stuff must do so with anonymity. If you believe in your cause (which actually would do damage to Oregon) then stand up and defend your position without hiding or by using cartoon characters.

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    Yes on 48 supporters stand to gain nothing - no more than the average Oregonian - except the general benefit of a brighter economic future.

    I lived in Colorado when the Taxpayer Bill of rights (TABOR) was passed. It virtually destroyed Colorado's economy, which is why Coloradans voted to roll it back for 5 years. Under TABOR, college tuition increased by 21 percent in less than 4 years. Colorado went from 35th to 47th in k-12 funding.

    It was the wrong direction for Colorado then. It is the wrong direction for Oregon now. If it had any real support in this state, proponents would not need to rely on a New York City billionaire to put it on the ballot.

    • Sal
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    Great piece about a very destructive ballot measure funded by Mr. Rich, multimillionaire from New York. There is so much negative to say about this measure that you had to leave out some of it. For example, many of Mr. Rich's initiatives were tossed from the ballots of other western states because of fraud by petition signature gatherers. In Oregon, complaints are still being reviewed by the Secretary of State, but even if they are substantiated the worst that can happen is a fine. I will be working to tighten the rules next session.

    I wrote a piece for my local papers last week on this topic and Measure 45 that was published by several of the small newspapers in my district including the Oregon Daily Emerald, the student newspaper at the University of Oregon. While ODE got the headline wrong, the text is what I wrote.

    All of us need to work hard to defeat this measure.

  • LT (unverified)

    Silence: You need to realize there are Oregonians who are not now and never have been union members who are sick and tired of ballot measures funded by out of state interests.

    And claiming No on 48 is funded by unions (Oregon unions, national unions? you didn't say) doesn't change the fact that people who have decided to vote no on all out-of-state funded measures will be voting no on 48. And bringing up union funding won't change that.

    The anti-tax and anti-public employee union people who have run the House for these last years didn't exactly set a standard of quality for short, open, solution-oriented legislative sessions. Can't blame unions for that.

  • Silence Dogood (unverified)

    So LT:

    No on 42 (out of state insurance industry) is funded from out of state -- the no-on-out-of-state-bloc must vote YES (for Sizemore) on that.

    And Yes on 44 (AARP) is funded from out-of-state so vote NO on that, too.

    Is that the ticket? If not - then the out-of-state gas is nothing but hot air.

  • Wendy (unverified)

    LT and company, Why don't you argue against the spending limit without the distorting of TABOR, distorting about Colorado and the dishonest comparison to the RDA which we will be voting on?

    The answer is because you know lying will help the vote go your way.
    But, TABOR did not destroy Colorado's economy any more than M37 here has gutted the state.

    Can you people tell the truth about anything?

    TABOR did exactly what it was supposed to do and Colorado's economy boomed during early TABOR years. Only after their legislature lowered the tax rates and a recession hit did their government coffers strain.

    The differences in our Rainy Day Amendment make it impossible for a TABOR down side effect to result here.

    The RDA does not reduce spending in down years, does not limit collections of revenue, allows for a savings/rainy day account to be quickly established and does not effect all government agencies as Colorado's did.

    It is not TABOR, doesn't work like TABOR, is better than TABOR and will have all the upsides of TABOR without the down. Naturally you think any spending limit is down side so go ahead and make that pitch.

    However, if you can't tell the truth about anything you are no better than Bush. You all know Bush, right? And when it comes to Bush you're all experts on lying right? So much so that you frequently read his mind and know for certain all of his motivations.

    Russell, I expect an echo of your tripe in Oregonian editorials a couple more times before the election. They have no problem lying the voters every cycle.

  • LT (unverified)

    LT and company, Why don't you argue against the spending limit without the distorting of TABOR,

    First of all, I didn't mention TABOR in my comment. I dare anyone supporting any such limitation to publish a list of their proposed cuts that adds up to the amount of money the legislature would have to cut. "Cut it all" doesn't count, unless you want to run a campaign of "Measure 48 because we don't need any state services".

    I like the idea of a respite from ballot measures (maybe a few election cycles). As I was telling a friend today, anyone who doesn't like all the ballot measures could easily vote no on all and the state would not fall apart.

    And I like the idea of term limits for initiativemeisters. You'd be amazed at the number of ordinary hard working folks who'd love to shout at those people "Go out in the real world and get a real job like the rest of us!".

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    Did you live in Colorado under TABOR? I remember watching the entire Republican establishment make many of the same arguments you are making in favor of this latest iteration of TABOR.

    Most of those people got voted out of office around the same time that Coloradans kicked TABOR to the curb, which is probably why you're using a pseudonym, and why virtually the entire Republican political establishment in Oregon, including your candidate for Governor, is saying no to TABOR here in Oregon.

    No matter how much perfume you put on that pig, it still stinks to high heaven.

    If you had any real support for TABOR in Oregon, you wouldn't need a New York City Billionaire to put it on the ballot.

  • Wendy (unverified)

    My pal Sal said, "I remember watching the entire Republican establishment make many of the same arguments you are making in favor of this latest iteration of TABOR"

    Well, Sal, you are obviously a liar as Colorado's Republicans did not have another state's previous TABOR to draw distinctions from. Colorado Republicans never claimed it was rainy day fund. You are lying about that. Colorado Republicans never claimed TABOR would only effect State spending. You are lying about that. Colorado Republicans never claimed legislators would have a choice to either send the excess back to taxpayers or start a rainy day fund. You lie about that.

    With every posting more lies from you and yours.

    When you get done lying about the RDA you start lying about TABOR and then start all over again.

    That's what's going on here. Perpetual distortion per the marching orders from Oregon public empolyee unions.

    Sal Sal Sal, "and why virtually the entire Republican political establishment in Oregon, including your candidate for Governor, is saying no to TABOR here in Oregon"

    What a story. The vast majority of active Republicans fully support M48. And those saying no are NOT saying no to "TABOR here in Oregon" as they are not lying about the RDA beign TABOR. That's your job.
    And with all the help you get from every stinking newspaper it may not pass. Then again it may, like M37, and we will see once again how the parade of lies did not work.

  • THartill (unverified)

    I have an idea...pass Measure 48 and if times get tough repeal Measure 11, if still money is just to tight we can repeal Measure 48 and it won't be the end of the world like many are claiming.

    The Government should fear the people, the people should not fear their Government.

  • ross smith (unverified)

    Do we need some realistic limit on state spending in Oregon? If we continue on the same 7% annual spending trajectory we are now on, measured in "real" (after cost of living) spending the size of Oregon state government will TRIPLE in the next generation (25-years).

    If we step up spending to the 12% being recommended by Gov. Kulongowski and others, state government will triple in size twice as fast -- in only six biennial sessions.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)

    Wendy -

    Just answer one question - why do you and your fellow Measure 48 supporters dislike your friends, neighbors, and fellow Oregonians so much? Your anger is palpable in your accussations about how everybody is a liar, and yet you provide no analysis of your own or from anyone else about the actual impacts of Measure 48 if it were to pass. You are proving the point that you and the rest of Measure 48 supporters (which you claim include a majority of Republicans) really don't like anybody with whom you share your community and your state, so what don't you tell us just why that is?

    And ross smith - perhaps as an apparent proponent of Measure 48, you could fill us in how much federal government spending has "decreased" under Republican leadership in DC and how that "decreased" spending has affected our state? And which of those effects are in keeping with your personal values for what you'd like to see for your family, friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens?

    Why don't all of you proponents tell us exactly what kind of future for our state you want and provide the numbers and arguments exactly how Measure 48 would bring about that future? If Measure 48 is such a good idea, you should be able to do that in less than a paragraph in a way which includes enough substance to prove your point. So far you've failed miserably at that.

  • Wendy (unverified)

    ask, Take the bag off your head and get some fresh air.

    You're confusing yourself bouncing around like you are.

    I like my friends, neighbors, and fellow Oregonians as much just fine and at least as much as you. What I don't like is the agenda of lies used to combat ballot measure blues don't like. Anything palpable is your own lying side failing miserablly to use the truth on this M48 debate. Point by point the truth displays the falsehoods blues use comparing TABOR and misrepresenting the RDA.

    Why don't you tell us how you like everybody with whom you share your community and your state while at the same time propogating massive waste and dysfunction at ODOT, Education, Corrections, HHS and others?

    ODOT is a long story of inefficiency and misappropriation. Your blues who control Oregon K-12 "like" our school children by imposing wasteful reforms and out of control compensation costs upon the classrooms.

    Here you are pretending you've never heard any of lengthy discussions on wasteful failed policies because you don't want spending reigned in to a reasonable level.

    Your pitch about "Measure 48 supporters really don't like anybody with whom you share your community and your state" is proof you can't rely on the truth of M48 just as your side could not on M37 and others.

  • ross smith (unverified)

    In answer to annonymous' question to me -- the issue b4 us is not what the feds are doing but what we are spending right here in Oregon. Our fiscal problems do not result from under taxing but from overspending. The present seven percent spending trajectory is unsustainable -- just look at the numbers in the future and ask the key question of where we will get the funds which will enable us to divert that much private money to public spending. We simply cannot afford to triple the size of state government in the next quarter century as it would be economically devestating to Oregon. Establishing a reasonable spending limit and learning to live within it should promote fiscal integrity in government, lower our borrowing rate, end the biennial squabble arising from never having enough money, encourage the private investment necessary to grow private jobs in the state, and stop the drain of besinesses and jobs outside the state. M48 may not be the ideal solution, but it is a step in the right direction, and we should at least be talking about where our perpetual state overspending is leading us and what to do about it. Yet some are advocating raising the spending rate to as high as 12 percent -- which would have and extremely adverse on our state's financial structure.

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    M48 is a horrible step in the wrong direction. Does anybody really think Oregon needs a 7 billion dollar cut from current levels, very potentially including money ALREADY SPENT in the last biennium? Do we really need another kicker, which is all the "rainy day fund" theorized will turn out to be? Does it make sense to pretend that unemployment insurance is part of budgetary spending? Does the cost of items in the budget ever follow the ridiculous, arbitrary formula used by M48s backers, that is essentially a carbon copy of Colorado's failed system?

    Of course the answers to each of these are 'No.'

  • THartill (unverified)


    How is it a cut?

    Spending RISES with population and inflation.

    Only in a far-left dream world could this be viewed as a CUT.

  • Eric (unverified)

    M48 messes with Oregon's constitution. Any measure that messes with the constitution gets an automatic NO vote. The constitution is a blueprint to interpret the law, not be the law on its own. M48 makes the constitution into an ORS statute and severely undermines the true concept on what a constitutional amendment should be.

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    THartill--at a minimum, it is a cut of 2.2bil from funds expected to be available for the 07-08 budget. But a plausible claim exists that the implementation of M48 would require retroactive defunding of the CURRENT budget.

    And hey--if Republicans are going to pretend that sunsetting a tax cut is a "tax hike," then taking money away that was going to be spent, but now won't be, is a "spending cut."

  • LT (unverified)

    "Spending RISES with population and inflation."

    First of all, as recent reporting has shown, sometimes bus fuel and other transportation costs rise above the rate of inflation. When the inflation rate is reported, it is often reported 2 ways--the rate incl. food and gas, and the "core rate without the volatile food and gas numbers".

    So which number would Measure 48 use?

    Not only that, but if a school of 500 suddenly has 550 kids, that is a 10% raise in school population. But if the figure which Measure 48 uses (would that be statewide rise in population?)is only 5% then how does Measure 48 help that situation?

    Is it true that there could be accounting gimmicks in it which could involve defunding the current budget or saying "sorry, if we pay unemployment benefits we'll have to cut something else to stay under the spending cap."?

    My problem with Measure 48 advocates is that they tend to shy away from answering such detailed questions, call people "pro-tax" for asking questions, or some other nonsense.

    If this were just another McIntire or whoever measure with the money raised exclusively in Oregon, that would be one thing. But it isn't. And no amount of name calling will make some of us vote for anything connected to Grover Norquist ---who is not an Oregonian!

  • Wendy (unverified)

    LT, Do you live in Oregon? How long have you lived here?

    The continued effort by you and others to concoct scenarios of rising costs beyond inflation and population is a hoot.

    I wonder why none of you don't simply look back at the record over the last 20 years and show us what costs rose faster than population and inflation?

    Could it be because public employee compensation would be a highlight of those faster rising costs?

    Any scenario can be handled under M48 with it's rainy day fund and the ability to get public approval for greater spending if and when needed.

    Sorry pal this ain't Cuba.

  • LT (unverified)

    Wendy, I campaigned for Tom McCall's re-election. How long have you lived in Oregon? Do you even know that Tom McCall was a very common sense governor who would have had a few choice words for out of state ballot measure funding? Or are you trying to tell us that Don McIntire raised all the money for this measure from Oregonians?

    I know that the money for Measure 48 was not all raised in this state. I have seen the anti-tax anti-government crowd put up ballot measures and then not answer questions about them. They treat questions as somehow subversive. They wonder why initiativemeisters are not highly regarded in some circles.

    Show me (exact quote, and where in the measure you found it) where rainy day fund is mentioned in the measure. I don't believe that it is.

    You're right that this ain't Cuba. It is a democracy where voters are allowed to ask questions and make up their own mind on how to vote based on how responsive the answers are.

  • Wendy (unverified)

    Tom McCall would cringe at what you've become.

    Tom McCall was a very common sense governor who would have had a few choice words for your assault on intitiatives placed on the ballot Oregon voters signing petitions. Your camp has so retarded SB 100 McCall is likey rolling in his grave.

    "Out of state funding" feeds much of your agenda pal so give it a break. At least enough Oregon voters signed the petitions. Unlike some of your lefty failed initiatives.

    You're a broken record and a hypocrite on answering questions. Lefty politicians such as TK or BB hide over at KPOJ and never answer anything from their opponents.

    You get answers you don't like and pretend they never came.

    How many times will you need to ponder the RDA to figure out how it allows a rainy day fund to accumulate?

    There is no way you have not gone through this entire play several times. So why the repeat? "Show me where rainy day fund is mentioned in the measure" Here, r e a l s l o w n o w,

    it doesn't need to, under m48 the legislature will have the flexibility to either send the money back to taxpayers or save it

    you know the legislature elected officials can decide

    Do you think they will send it back?

    You're no friend of the McCall legacy. He'd be insulted.

  • David Wright (unverified)

    FYI, regarding the video mentioned above

    Rainy Day Amendment

    I happened to write a blog post about the Nevada ballot measures this year, and one of the commenters pointed me to this site:

    Property Bill of Rights

    Isn't it interesting how the intro looks so similar? Though what the Statue of Liberty is doing anywhere near Las Vegas is beyond me...

    These videos are obviously part of a nationally organized campaign to advocate for state issues. Not that I happen to think that's inherently bad, and I'm leaning towards support for Nevada #2 even though I'd oppose Oregon #48. Each issue should be considered on its own merits, not based necessarily on who supports it.

    <h2>But I do think that disclosure of information so voters can make informed decisions is a good thing.</h2>

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