Weighing in on the initiatives
With a single exception, we don't believe the initiative ballot measures appearing in the Nov. 6 general election will produce worthwhile results for Oregon.
Last week, we gave our views on ballot Measures 58, 59 and 60. Today, we examine four other citizen initiatives that qualified for the November ballot. And next week, we will look at four measures referred to the ballot by the Legislature.
Here are our recommendations regarding Ballot Measures 61, 62, 64 and 65:
Measure 61 - Mandatory prison sentences
We agree with the intent of this measure, which is to ensure that repeat drug and property-crime offenders are removed from the streets.
But while we share such an opinion with this initiative's sponsor, Kevin Mannix, we cannot support its adoption. This measure's cost is way too high. Because of the increased number of people who would be incarcerated under this measure, the state would have to build new prisons and spend an estimated $586 million every two years on additional operating costs for prisons.
A better alternative is being offered by the Legislature through Measure 57, which also increases sentences for these types of crimes, but emphasizes treatment, rehabilitation and prison sentences for criminals in a more affordable way. We recommend voters choose Measure 57 over Measure 61.
Measure 62 - Lottery money for public safety
Currently, state lottery money is allocated to education and to programs that encourage job creation in Oregon. Measure 62 would shift 15 percent of lottery revenues away from those priorities and into public-safety programs. Since the lottery isn't likely to see the growth in the future that it has in the past, such a change could cost Oregon schools $185 million per biennium.
With the economy slowing, funds available for schools are likely to be limited in the next biennium anyway. For that reason, we recommend voting 'no' on Measure 62.
Measure 64 - No public money for politics
This measure is highly confusing to read. But if you understand the background, it's simple to understand.
Every two years, Bill Sizemore sponsors various ballot measures threatening public employees, and every two years the public-employee unions fight those measures using funds collected, in part, through payroll deductions for union dues.
Sizemore's Measure 64 is his latest attempt to cut off funding to his opposition by prohibiting public resources to be used for political purposes. The measure also could have negative collateral effects on certain charitable organizations.
We recommend a 'no' vote because we believe passage of this measure would silence public employee voices and tip the electoral scale too far in the direction of their constant critics.
Measure 65 - Open primary
This highly commendable measure would modernize Oregon's election system by allowing all voters - regardless of political party affiliation - to participate in primary elections and vote for whichever candidate they prefer - again, regardless of party.
The most partisan of politicians on the right and left oppose this measure because they fear the moderating effect it will have on the electorate and on the candidates. They also fear they will lose control of the nominating process.
Voters in Washington state have proven that once the power of an open primary is placed into voters' hands, they will not give it up. Oregon voters should try this system for themselves. Once they have experienced an open primary, they will never return to the ways of the past.