On TABOR, Rob Kremer and the O's Betsy Hammond duke it out

Rob Kremer, the one-time candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, has a blog. On Tuesday, he hammered the Oregonian's coverage of Measure 48 aka TABOR.

You would expect any such article, if the author was a serious journalist, would do a few things:

1) provide an honest balance of pro and con views as to what happened in Colorado, both good and bad; and 2) explain any substantive differences between Measure 48 and Tabor that might mitigate the supposed negative effects that happened in Colorado. ...

Measure 48 would almost certainly immediately result in a large savings fund. The Oregonian says that this savings would be $2 billion right away, after the 2007-09 budget was limited by the measure.

Rather than let the attack fester, the O's reporter Betsy Hammond responded - and to Rob's credit, he published her response in full.

Today's article is fully and factually reported. I talked to all three budget directors who have implemented Tabor in Colorado at length. and I am confidence the piece is correct about what happened in Colorado and, when taking into account the Q and A, is correct about how Oregon's spending limit would be the same and different.

As my article says, there is no requirement under Measure 48 that the Legislature save any revenues that come in over the limit, rather than rebate them or lower tax rates or create tax breaks so the money doesn't come in in the first place.

To say that money would always be there to patch up spending in a downturn is simply unsupported by the facts, Rob. ...

The fact of it is, however, that the business community and most seasoned Republican budget writers have turned over-the-top negative on this thing. In fact I toned down what Brad Young, Bill Kaufman, Tom Clark, Rocky Scott, etc., had to say about a state spending limit. And these guys aren't sideline nutcakes. They're respected conservative and centrist leaders in Colorado.

Who exactly did you want me to quote that I did not as far as talking up the positive aspects of Tabor? A majority of the people I quoted are Republicans who like Bill Owens.... did you want me to interview a bunch of angry lefties or something?

There's much, much more - from both sides. Go read the original coverage, Rob's critique, and Betsy's defense.


  • KISS (unverified)

    I wrote of this in Oregon media, the day it came out. I too think it is biased and not up to Betsy's standard of writing in the past. The most criticisms over at OM were those that oppose Measure 48, not the bias, and that was disappointing. Whether you believe or disbelieve in 48 the point is the bias.Reporters should be scrupulous and careful how the twist can be perceived. Statement of fact I do not know if Measure 48 is good or bad.

  • (Show?)

    This is a problem, KISS, that wikipedia has to deal with constantly. If your ultimate goal is to create an article with a Neutral Point of View (NPOV), how exactly do you go about documenting the NAZIs? Hitler? Stalin? Pol Pot?

    I see no "bias" in this article, only verified fact: 1) Measure 48 is based on Colorado's Tabor. 2) Colorado's Tabor has severely limited that State's ability to attract businesses. 3) It has caused their higher education system to plummet. 4) A large percentage of Republican office holders and voters who used to support it, now think it is a disaster. 5) There are a few diehards who still support Tabor in theory, but still supported the temporary suspension. 6) Measure 48 is written in such a way that an extreme minority will be able to derail any suspension of its provisions, as has been done with Colorado's TABOR.

    Again, these are all verifiable facts. If you have problems with the reporting, you need to wean yourself of the need for validation in the news sources, when they tell you things you would rather not be true.

  • Don Smith (unverified)

    I actually was the "another reader" that Betsy referenced. She and I had quite a back and forth on this Monday. I created a spreadsheet that shows, with assumptions that you can change, the effects of TABOR versus M48 versus our current spend-it-all model.

    The bias in the article is not the facts. It's the presentation of the facts. Here's the formula.

    Measure 48 is based on population plus inflation.

    Tabor was based on population plus inflation. (NO discussion of the differences in how thespending limits work at all).

    Therefore, they're the same.

    Here are all the bad things that happened to Colorado.

    Implicit conclusion - M48 will destroy our colleges and roads, and Oregon will suffer.

    The problem is that the spending limit in M48 works in ways that cure the draconian flaws in TABOR (a revenue limit). The ratchet down clause in M48 is virtually non-existent. Betsy rightly notes that it could happen, but plug any numbers you like into the spreadsheet (email me at [email protected] for the spreadsheet), and you'll find that it is never as significant as TABOR and the growth is much smoother (and sometimes higher) than our current model.

    Again, the bias is in the implications of the article. I don't have any quarrels with the facts of what happened in Colorado, but the bottom line is that M48 is not TABOR, not close to TABOR, and other than the popuflation formula, bears no resemblance to TABOR.

    Also, M48 would hav eincluded a rainy-day fund requirement, but the courts would have shot it down. This is unfortunate, but you can only change one thing at a time.

  • anon (unverified)

    The propenents of Maine's version call it the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and Maine's is a spending cap rather than a revenue reduction just like Oregon's.

  • LT (unverified)

    So, which "rainy day" fund plan have the Measure 48 proponents advocated in the past? The vague "when one bucket fills up it slurps into the next bucket" Bucket Plan that Minnis, Doyle and others supported?

    What is wrong with turning down Measure 48 and putting the corporate kicker in a rainy day fund? That only those who were registered and voted to put the kicker in the constitution in 2000 have any right to an opinion? That Oregon taxpayer money should go to out of state corporations?

    And Don, about "our current spend-it-all model". What exactly do you propose to cut? Are all tax breaks engraved in stone for the rest of our lives? Were the cuts after the Measure 28 and Measure 30 elections not severe enough? Do you want all public employee salaries cut (or leave the administrative salaries alone and only cut unionized worker salaries)?

    If Measure 48 advocates (or anyone else with their attitude) would say "we need to cut spending and you can read our proposed cuts at...." that would be one thing. But either they pass the buck and say the cuts are someone else's responsibility, or they list things that failed to get enough votes in the past, or they offer cuts of less than the amount needed to deal with the shortfall.

    But Don, even if Measure 48 passes, it will still take 31 votes in the House and 16 votes in the Senate to pass a budget with cuts in it. That is a reality that some people fail to discuss.

  • sasha (unverified)

    LT: What cuts are you referring to? You mean those that would be necessary if the sum of population and inflation are a negative number?

    Or are you doing "Democrat math:" call anything below what you want to spend a cut.

    "I think I need a $75,000 Mercedes next year. Oh no, I only have money for a $50,000 Infinity. THAT'S A 33% CUT! Oh the children!"

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    Steve Maurer:

    You hit the nail on the head. You succinctly stated what's wrong with the "equal time for both points of view" argument.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    LT wrote:

    "What is wrong with turning down Measure 48 and putting the corporate kicker in a rainy day fund?"

    Well the first problem is that the amount of money in the corporate kicker is miniscule. It would take about twenty years to fill up a rainy day fund to 10% of the general fund (the size Kulongoski's proposed rainy day fund). And it would take longer to fill it if we had to actually use the rainy day fund at some point in the next two decades (we seem to have a recession at least once a decade).

    Under M48 we would reach Kulongoski's proposed 10% mark after the first biennium.

    Maybe Kulo is worried that M48 will build a rainy day fund too quickly....?

  • LT (unverified)

    Sasha, let's define "cut". If a government entity has to serve more people with the same number of dollars, is that a cut (something's gotta give) or keeping the funding the same?

    How does 48 treat unemployment insurance payments in an economic downturn like earlier this century--or is that too detailed a question?

    If the local school had 300 kids last school year and 360 the next year ( a 20 percent increase in students), a population increase of 9% (does the measure say population for all of Oregon or exactly how is that measured? ) and an inflation rate of 3%, does that school get the same number of dollars for the 360 student body as for the 300 student body? Or do they get 12% more (9+3) for a 20% increase in students?

    This has nothing to do with what cars people drive. I am grateful to drive my used car, whatever you may think of people who disagree with you and their car preferences.

    But without sarcasm, can you address that actual math problem? The school student body increased by 20% (maybe more families with children moved into the district, or more young parents had kids who grew up to be school age, regardless of state population figures). Population and inflation didn't grow 20% The way I read it, the school gets less money than before. And don't try to tell anyone whose child goes to a school where buckets catch roof leak drips that individual schools are extravagant .

    It is time we audit all government agencies starting with school district budgets being subject to outside auditors who might question the salaries paid to administrators and whether they are earning their salaries. I don't see that in Measure 48, I just see gimmicks.

    Talk to someone who moved into a home in the last several years in a neighborhood where homes are all about the same value. If the home across the street has been occupied for 30 years, is that home owner paying the same property tax as the family who moved in a few years ago? If the newly arrived family thinks that situation is unfair, they can thank Don McIntire's Measure 5--which I believe also shifted the tax burden from corporations to individuals.

    But hey! If you don't want to discuss such details, by all means make sarcastic remarks about people who question the wisdom of those like McIntire. Just don't expect to get our votes.

  • (Show?)

    Just like with term limits, TABOR folks who have no real knowledge of government try to pass of their hopes as real plans. I don't think any TABOR supporters have actually read a government budget, have ever attended a Ways and Means hearing, have not ever looked at the history of revenue and spending in this state to see how budget cuts (real cuts- not cuts in increases) have occurred in bad times, but have never been made up in good times, so that programs have suffered in the long run. These TABOR folks all operate on the conceptual level, and never let hard reality interfere with their opinions. When criticised for not having hard knowledge, they just disparage critics as being "insiders", as if having the knowledge from being inside the system is a bad thing.


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