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Westlund calls measure a flawed formula at Forest Grove meeting

The campaign against Measure 48 came to the heart of Washington County Monday when state Sen. Ben Westlund dropped by the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Monday.

After snacking on pizza and salad, Westlund told the audience that beneath the initiative's appealing 'sound bite' of fiscal responsibility lurked a 'flawed formula that proponents want to enshrine in the constitution.'

'Sound bites don't pay for schools,' he said of the proposed state spending cap. 'They don't pay for troopers on the road.'

Westlund, whose district includes much of Deschutes County launched an early independent bid for governor. He gave up that quixotic quest this summer and has since been campaigning against Measure 48 and Measure 41, another initiative which would trim Oregonians' state income tax bills.

At the luncheon, Westlund ran through the litany of complaints about Measure 48:

It's campaign is largely funded by out-of-of state interests.

It doesn't take into account that the cost of state services outpaces inflation and general population growth, the two indexes that would limit state spending.

Despite proponents' advertising campaign, the measure doesn't require creation of a 'rainy day' fund.

A similar voter-approved initiative in Colorado was recently suspended by voters.

Lois Hornberger, executive director of the chamber, told Westlund that the people she knows who plan to vote for Measure 48 support it because they're disappointed with how the legislature is running the state. How, she asked, would Westlund address their concerns?

He said the problem is not with the system in Salem, but the people elected to operate it.

The best way to restore public confidence in the legislature would be to curb the ideological clashes of recent years by changing the way representatives are elected, he suggested.

Implementing some form of an open primary, he said, would subvert the partisan influence in the House and Senate and increase the chances of electing moderate lawmakers capable of finding middle ground.