Questions and answers about Ballot Measure 28
On Jan. 28, Oregonians are being asked to vote to increase their own state income taxes. Following are some important questions and answers as to why organized labor supports the measure and why it is asking union members to vote "yes" on Measure 28.
Why is Measure 28 important?
These are tough times in Oregon and we have all had to tighten our belts. Whether trying to save for retirement, save for college, or just make ends meet, Oregon families have felt the pinch. We need Oregon's economy to recover - and fast. It's time to stop the constant barrage of headlines about massive company layoffs. The best way to recover quickly is to prove that Oregon is a good place to do business by protecting vital services like education, public safety and basic human services.
With Measure 28, we have the opportunity to say "enough," and reverse directions in Oregon. We have the opportunity to put Oregon back on track.
How is Measure 28 going to help in the state's economic recovery?
Oregon families need every tool available to make our economic recovery happen sooner, not later. And we all have a role to play. Public schools are responsible for providing a well-educated workforce and college-ready young people. Our community colleges and universities train people to succeed in our economy and be productive members of our society. Corrections, public safety and the courts ensure businesses and employees feel secure. The human services community is responsible for providing the critical safety net during these tough times. And businesses large and small rely on these services, both directly and indirectly, in order to thrive. We all have jobs to do that help turn our economy around and Measure 28 will allow us to do them.
How do we know it will work?
The Oregon Business Association is supporting the measure because they know that a strong educational system is critical to Oregon's future. Additionally, economists and business leaders will tell you that traditionally Oregon has had a competitive advantage in attracting and keeping employers because of our high quality of life. That means access to a well-educated and skilled workforce as well as security for all Oregonians. Measure 28 allows us to keep this essential infrastructure intact and keep Oregon open for business.
It worked before, it will work again. In 1982 Oregon was in the grip of a recession that was even worse than what we are facing today. Then, under Republican Governor Vic Atiyeh, Oregon lawmakers made a bold move to protect vital services essential to attracting and retaining new business. They enacted a temporary income tax surcharge - similar to the one proposed by Measure 28.
By preserving our high quality of life and maintaining our well-educated and skilled workforce, we laid the foundation for businesses to invest in Oregon.
Today, we have a similar opportunity to protect the economy. For less than $9.50 per month for most Oregonians, we can preserve the most basic services and speed up our economic recovery.
What is Measure 28?
Measure 28 is a referral to Oregon voters by our State Legislature. In 2002's fifth special session, the Legislature struggled with how to close a growing gap in the state budget. They implemented deep spending cuts and took on some debt, but there was still a large hole to fill. Measure 28 broke the deadlock by generating temporary revenue to help bridge the shortfall. However, Measure 28 has specifically earmarked $310 million in cuts that have already been outlined by legislation. These mean additional significant cuts for education, public safety and human services. These cuts are in place and can only be rolled back with the passage of Measure 28.
What does Measure 28 do?
Measure 28 is a temporary three-year income tax surcharge of one-half of one percent for personal income taxpayers and a proportionate increase in the corporate income tax rate. If passed, most Oregonians will pay less than $9.50 per month to restore wholesale cuts to schools, state police, prisons, the Oregon Health Plan, senior care and other services.
Measure 28 will raise $313 million in the current biennium and another $412 million in the 2003-2005 biennium. Under legislation already passed, this money is to restore already scheduled cuts to basic state services.
Will the cuts really be made?
Measure 28 restores only a portion of the cuts that have already been implemented and scheduled. In fact, in fiscal 2002, Oregon experienced the second-largest reduction in budgeted spending on a percentage basis of any state. (Fiscal Survey of the States, Nov., 2002, National Governors' Association.)
If Measure 28 does not pass, $310 million worth of cuts to basic services will be implemented. Some politicians have been quoted as saying that they will protect popular services, but lawmakers are restricted by the reality of the calendar. Lawmakers were unable to balance the budget over five special sessions in 2002 without implementing these cuts. The Legislature reconvened Jan. 13. The election is on Jan. 28. The cuts go into effect immediately. Two weeks is not enough time to start over.
Is Measure 28 the final solution?
Measure 28 is an important first step.
It will not cover the entire budget shortfall for either this or next budget year. In fact, even with Measure 28, Oregon still faces an additional $112 million shortfall and Governor John Kitzhaber called for those cuts to happen before he left office.
However, it will do one important thing - and that is keep the basic vital services intact. Measure 28 is a critical investment in Oregon's economic recovery. By stopping scheduled cuts to vital services, Measure 28 gives Oregonians a chance to turn things around. It also gives us the time we need to come up with long-term solutions that will better protect our economy in the future.
Measure 28 is a solution that serves the state better than using accounting tricks to make things look better than they are or borrowing against our future.
Who supports Measure 28?
The broad-based grass-roots support behind Measure 28 has been truly overwhelming. Supporters include former Governors John Kitzhaber and Vic Atiyeh, Governor Ted Kulongoski, Oregon Education Association, Oregon AFL-CIO, Oregon Business Association, Oregon Nurses Association, Elders in Action, the League of Women Voters and the United Way of Columbia-Willamette.
Groups and individuals from across Oregon representing our business community, public schools, higher education, developmentally disabled, seniors, children, public safety and health care are all passionate supporters of Measure 28.
Everyone has a reason to vote YES on Measure 28. Everyone has a reason to support a quick economic recovery. Everyone has a reason to put Oregon back on track.
According to the state labor federation, union members and community volunteers are signing up in record numbers for AFL-CIO phone banks in Portland and Springfield.
Phones are staffed through Sunday, Jan. 19, but volunteers are still needed every evening beginning at 5:30 p.m. from Monday, Jan. 20, through Thursday, Jan. 23, and from Saturday, Jan. 25, through Monday, Jan. 27.
Call Steve Lanning at the Oregon AFL-CIO at 503-224-3169 or 503-585-6320 to schedule time at the phone banks. Fliers for distribution at work sites can be downloaded from the labor federation's Website at email@example.com.
Voter turnout is expected to be low, which means the outcome could be decided by a very close vote.
Ballots must be received in county elections offices by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28.
© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.