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Support Measures 98, 99 and 100

Published Sept. 30, 2016 -


Measure 98

Funds high school programs


Letting voters decide what does and doesn’t get funded in the state budget is usually a bad idea. But backers of this measure have put enough safeguards in place to earn our somewhat reluctant endorsement.

Measure 98 is aimed at lowering Oregon’s dropout rate, one of the highest in the nation. Roughly 10,000 kids who started as high school freshmen this month will not graduate. And too many of those who do get a diploma are not ready for the next step.

This measure would require state lawmakers to budget at least $800 per high school student and require schools to use the money to establish or expand programs in three key areas: Drop-out prevention; career and technical training; college-level classes.

The smartly written initiative gives districts flexibility, so that those with already-strong programs in one area can focus on another.

We’re particularly supportive of the focus on career and technical training. College isn’t for everyone, and many important, good-paying jobs need a different kind of training than you’ll get at a university.

Our concern is that it requires about $150 million a year in new spending without providing a source of the money. The initiative states that the cash comes from the expected annual growth in the general fund. But that supercedes other contending uses for that money, such as employee cost-of-living raises and serving expanding student and senior citizen populations.

To address that, backers built in “circuit-breaker” language stating that if the Oregon general fund does not grow by $1.5 billion, initial funding for this measure will be phased in over three years.

Because this is a statutory measure (not a constitutional amendment), lawmakers could change the terms to fit changing budget realities.

This is a well-crafted aspirational goal for helping to prepare Oregon students for life after high school.

Measure 99

Funds outdoor education


This proposal to fund Outdoor School for all Oregon youths also pairs worthy educational goals with a flawed method of budgeting.

Outdoor School has been around in Oregon since the 1950s. We’re sure there are a few Oregonians who didn’t like their five-day stay in the woods or the coast during their fifth- or sixth-grade years. But the vast majority of people seem have fond memories and a high percentage describe it as “life-changing.”

In recent years, during waves of school budget cuts, Outdoor School has become more of a luxury. Now fewer than half the students living outside the Portland metro area attend Outdoor School. Schools that do participate often rely on financial support from parents, creating yet another education gap based on income and demographics.

So Outdoor School enthusiasts are asking voters to earmark $22 million a year for their cause from state lottery profits.

State-run gambling now funds education and state parks. So in that respect, Outdoor School — which creates an educational experience in a natural setting — is a good fit.

Measure 100

Restricts wildlife trafficking


It’s not often that you get the chance to hurt terrorists and help elephants with the single stroke of a pen.

Poaching of endangered animals has long been a global problem, with a booming market for things such as elephant ivory, sea turtle shells and rhino horns. In recent years, it’s taken a more sinister turn, as the proceeds from wildlife trafficking funded terrorist groups in sub-Saharan Africa.

Some of those goods make their way into the United States, where ivory from poached elephants can be legally sold to unsuspecting — or fully complicit — buyers.

That’s why several other states with ports of entry have banned the trade of exotic animal parts within their borders.

This proposal has exemptions to ensure that no one will be arrested for selling family heirlooms, musical instruments and legitimate antiques (made while such products were still legal).

There is a growing international effort to provide armed protection for animals threatened by poaching. It may be difficult for Oregonians to join that dangerous effort, but they can help by squeezing the market for poached products.