The No on 92 Campaign's $14 Million Grand Deception

Rick North Facebook

So the next time you see anything with $14 million government costs for Measure 92, you can place it in the proper waste receptacle.

Of all the sound bites gushing forth from the No on 92’s PR spin machine opposing GMO labeling, one stands out as a masterpiece of deception.

From their website:

“Would Measure 92 end up costing taxpayers?

Yes. Measure 92 would create two new state bureaucracies to enforce and implement its costly regulations. The Oregon Department of Administrative Services staff estimated that inspection programs to enforce Measure 92 would cost taxpayers more than $14 million every budget cycle.”

The $14 million figure is everywhere – in their ads, in the Voters' Pamphlet and on the lips of the PR professionals their campaign has hired to do their debating for them.

Yet the actual, official cost estimate from the Secretary of State’s office is that Measure 92 is “expected to result in direct expenditures by State agencies for initial one-time start-up costs estimated at between $550,000 and $600,000.”

This comes to a one-time cost of 15 cents per Oregonian for work performed by current staff.

So where did this $14 million figure come from?

The No campaign presents it as the final word. But that’s not the case at all – it was only a preliminary, internal memo that came from the Oregon Dept. of Administrative Services (DAS). Here’s what the No campaign isn’t telling you about the DAS memo:

  1. It took the figures from the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture.
  2. It considered the $14 million ongoing costs as only one of several possible scenarios. Another scenario in the same document pegged the ongoing costs at only $573,044. But this lower cost figure never saw the light of day in the No campaign’s slick advertising.
  3. It was only one document out of many presented as testimony to the state financial impact committee that determined the final cost estimate, which included Secretary of State Kate Brown, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Michael Jordan, DAS director.
  4. Neither DAS scenario made the final cut, which was the official one-time $550,000 - $600,000 estimate. Any future costs were indeterminate.

DAS spokesperson Matt Shelby concurs: “The DAS memo presented a range of potential enforcement items, the $14 million being the most costly. The state financial impact committee chose not to include either one of them.”

There were very good reasons for not accepting any of the DAS figures for ongoing costs. First and foremost, the initiative doesn’t require any new government infrastructure.

The enforcement of Measure 92 is notable for its simplicity and lack of red tape. It’s private citizen-initiated and consists of just three steps:

  1. If anyone suspects that a food manufacturer or retailer is breaking the law by not labeling, they notify the state Attorney General’s office.
  2. The AG’s office decides if they want to take legal action. If they do, it goes through the existing court system.
  3. If the AG’s office decides not to take action after 60 days, the individual, business or organization is free to independently pursue legal action.

That’s it. No “two new state bureaucracies,” no need for additional staff, testing equipment, lab analysis, etc.

So the next time you see anything with $14 million government costs for Measure 92, you can place it in the proper waste receptacle.

And then, hopefully, you’ll vote Yes so we can start getting the transparency we deserve in our food purchases.

Because we’re sure not getting any transparency from the No campaign.

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