One simple lens through which to view the upcoming state-wide measures is that Democrats are endorsing nearly all of them, and it should therefore come as no surprise that Republicans are suggesting that you vote no against nearly all of them. Below we describe and analyze Measures 94-100.
This measure strikes a fixed requirement that judges retire at 75 years old, leaving only a general provision that would allow the legislature to “authorize or require the retirement of judges for mental or physical disability or any other cause rendering judges incapable of performing their judicial duties”.
The Multnomah County Republican Party (MCRP) has taken no position on this amendment. Concerns have been raised that allowing the legislature to retire judges under vague standards might produce an even more politicized judiciary. Imagine, for example, a Democratic legislature creating a judicial disability commission staffed with Kate Brown appointees, under which any judge deemed politically-incorrect, like Judge Day, is also retired as “incapable of performing his or her judicial duties”. Of course, that power remains under the Constitution whether Measure 94 is passed or not.
Present law forbids the State of Oregon from holding stock in any private companies, with a number of exceptions. Those exceptions include situations where stock is “donated for higher education purposes”. The proposed amendment would remove any and all restrictions on public universities owning stock.
The advocates of this measure have not explained why the existing exceptions in the Constitution are not more than sufficient for public universities. Presumably they seek to escape from the low bond yields wrongfully engineered by the Federal Reserve into imagined higher stock returns, in an attempt to maximize endowments.
As Oregon’s public universities become more and more hostile to Republican values, and indeed American ones, it is hard to rationalize giving them more freedom from legislative oversight, and more entanglement with the private sector. Nor is it clear that giving universities freedom to invest in more risky investments is in the public interest. The MCRP recommends a “no” vote.
This measure would divert 1.5% of the net proceeds of lottery revenues to Veteran’s Services. As a general matter, legal measures dedicating particular revenue sources to particular spending produce nothing but additional complications in budgeting. The Legislature can and should set its priorities in the budget without having to work around all of the laws dedicating funds to particular purposes, and that is how budgeting usually occurs anyway.
While veteran’s services are worthy expenditures, they are also a primarily federal responsibility, and the State should put pressure on the federal government to improve veterans’ services, stepping up to address circumstances unique to Oregon. Dedicating the funds also violates the promises made at the time the lottery was sold to Oregon citizens. Ultimately, the lottery itself is not consistent with Republican values, and exploits poorer and less-educated Oregonians.
This measure would impose a 2.5% gross receipts tax on large corporations and purports to dedicate the funds to education, healthcare, and senior citizens. Interestingly, the attorney general has already advised that notwithstanding the plain language of the initiative, the Legislature can spend the money any way it wants.
Because it is a tax on sales, not profits, companies like Fred Meyer will likely be required to pass it directly along to Oregon consumers. This is projected to raise costs for the average Oregon family by $600 a year, making this an easy “no” vote.
The Measure is also designed as a diabolically-deceptive means of funding overly-generous PERS payments for education, healthcare and other service unions. It is no coincidence that these unions are the backbone of the Oregon Democratic Party.
A good case can be made that each and every increase in state involvement in elementary, junior high, and high school education has been a step backwards not merely with respect to the effectiveness of education, but with respect to our freedom. “One size fits all” state solutions to local community problems are nearly always more expensive and less effective.
Measure 98 would require the legislature to provide at least $800 per student for grants to be administered by the Oregon Department of Education for career education and other ideas that school districts can and do already pursue. This will create yet more paperwork and more education bureaucrats in a system that is choking with them, as more and more education resources are shifted away from the classroom. Local school districts can best allocate scarce education funds, and are more accountable to voters. The MCRP recommends a “no” vote.
Oregon schools are already failing to teach basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. The Measure’s goal of providing every Oregon fifth- or sixth-grade student week-long outdoor school program or equivalent merely makes the Oregon’s school year devoted to educational fundamentals—already one of the Nation’s shortest—even shorter.
The State does not need to raid lottery funds to create an Outdoor School Education Fund administered by Oregon State University (OSU). This creates more administrators for no public benefit. While it is tempting to reallocate lottery funds presently dedicated to economic development given the general dysfunction of those programs, two wrongs don’t make a right.
Local school districts are in the best position whether and to what extent to prioritize outdoor education. Children growing up in rural Oregon may not need the same exposure that Portland kids do. And no child needs exposure to environmentalist indoctrination rather than sound natural science, which has been a feature of some outdoor education programs.
This measure is designed to prohibit trade in certain animal parts. None of the species involved, except perhaps sharks and rays, are native to Oregon, and Federal law already prohibits importing any products made from them. The idea of protecting any and all sharks and rays is particularly obnoxious, as sharks and rays can and should be harvested like any other fish.
We already have a large federal police force at work on this issue, and we do not need a duplicative state force, particular one that may even be empowered to ban trade in things that only “look like” endangered species, and to introduce all sorts of burdensome requirements concerning old pianos, knick-knacks and even bagpipes (for an depressing account concerning the federal bagpipe police Measure 100 proposes to replicate, read here).
The State of Oregon is broke, and largely because it has too many employees to whom it has promised too much money. Respect for taxpayers demands that we fund real problems of real consequence to Oregonians. Requiring citizens to prove that their antiques are over 100 years old or contain less than 200 grams of animal parts is another burden Oregonians don’t need. This Measure is yet another expensive way to make people feel good about doing something about a problem, no matter how wasteful or ineffective.
It is unfortunate that Republicans have not been as active as Democrats in fostering ballot initiatives.