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On measures, vote carefully

Editorial

The ballots that arrived in mailboxes the past few days ask voters to make dozens of choices about everything from candidates to school funding to green spaces.

While all of these decisions are significant to someone, very few are monumental enough to alter the immediate and long-term prospects of our community and state. In trying to separate the vital issues from the merely important ones, we believe that four ballot measures rise quickly to the top.

State ballot Measures 41 and 48, which if passed in tandem will do more to govern Oregon's future than any individual elected to office, are two of them.

Measure 41 would give state taxpayers the option of taking the same personal income-tax deduction as they do on their federal return, instead of the current state tax credit. The result, in addition to modest savings for most taxpayers, would be the state having $385 million less to spend during the 2007-09 biennium.

What's more troubling is the measure's retroactive nature, which means school districts might have to reduce spending immediately. This would result in millions of dollars of cuts between now and the end of the school year.

Measure 48 is a state-spending cap that not only would limit government expenditures but also hamper Oregon's ability to invest in better schools, roads and health care.

Our opposition to the two measures is based on the belief that Oregonians have done enough through initiatives of the past two decades to limit taxation and spending. Further restrictions will push Oregon well beyond being frugal and into a perpetual state of underinvesting for current and future needs and opportunities.

The opportunity to build for the future, however, also is present on the Nov. 7 ballot. That brings us to the two measures most important for sustaining Portland's livability.

The first, Measure 26-84, would revive a local-option levy for Portland Public Schools. Without this levy, class sizes will grow, educational materials will become outdated and a downward spiral of declining enrollment followed by decreased state support will continue.

Another issue in urgent need of passage is ballot Measure 26-86, which would reform the city's Fire and Police Disability and Retirement System. This proposal makes essential changes to a system that could bankrupt the city if left alone.

People may be discouraged by negative advertising and the national political climate, but there are important reasons to vote - the greatest of which is the long-term health of this state and community.