TWO VIEWS •ÊSupporters of Measure 11 say it will save the state money and spark the economy, but detractors wonder about the value of OHSU's underwritten research
No one likes paying high interest rates. This May election, Oregonians will have a chance to save approximately $32 million in interest charges on an important investment in Oregon's economic future. Instead of paying that interest to bondholders, voters can put those millions of dollars to work right here in Oregon, creating jobs and advancing medical research.
The history of Ballot Measure 11 is simple. Last year, many of us worked with the governor and the Legislature to approve the Oregon Opportunity Act to help make Oregon a national leader in medical research.
The act contains two alternative financing mechanisms. One authorizes the state to issue revenue bonds to raise $165 million. The other, contained in Measure 11, authorizes the state to issue general obligation bonds to raise $200 million. However, the Legislature does not have the authority to authorize the issuance of the general obligation bonds, which is why Ballot Measure 11 must be approved by the voters.
It is up to voters to decide which type of bonds will be issued: revenue bonds or general obligation bonds.
General obligation bonds are much less expensive than revenue bonds because they have lower interest rates. If voters approve Ballot Measure 11, the Oregon Opportunity program will receive $200 million and the state will save approximately $32 million in interest costs. If the voters do not approve Measure 11, the state will issue the more expensive revenue bonds, and the Oregon Opportunity program will receive only $165 million.
Both types of bonds are to be paid for with a portion of the payments the state receives under the national tobacco settlement against the tobacco industry.
Measure 11 is not asking for more money. It is simply a chance to save $32 million that would otherwise be spent on high interest costs.
Not only will Ballot Measure 11 save the state money, it will also spur economic growth and diversity around Oregon through the creation of new jobs and industries.
This measure is the state's financial commitment to a billion-dollar partnership with the private sector and the federal government in making Oregon Health & Science University a national leader in medical research. Investing in medical research will have a long-term benefit to Oregon by creating new high-tech jobs, new companies, new investments and potentially new medical cures for Oregonians.
It also means thousands of jobs outside the high-tech industry, and many of those jobs start now. The construction of new laboratory facilities translates into thousands of new jobs at a time when Oregon's unemployment rate is the highest in the nation.
Some ballot measures require a lot of study. This one is simple and straightforward. Measure 11 will save approximately $32 million in higher interest cost while helping Oregon's economy. It's a good measure for Oregon.
Randall Edwards is the Oregon state
treasurer. He lives in Southeast Portland.