Petition 41 would restore public safety

Initiative Petition 41 is a constitutional amendment which dedicates 15% of lottery profits to public safety. We have already submitted nearly 164,000 voters’ signatures to the Secretary of State to place this on the ballot for November 2008. Since only about 110,000 verified signatures are required, we are confident that this constitutional amendment will go in front of the voters.

Two of our biggest challenges in public safety are maintaining good funding for crime lab and forensics operations and developing better funding for local crime control activities.

This initiative resolves the first challenge by dedicating half of the new public safety fund (the 15% of lottery profits) to fully fund the criminal investigation, crime lab, and forensics operations of the Oregon State Police. This dedicated funding will allow the Oregon State Police to recruit and retain highly-qualified investigators and forensics experts to give Oregon one of the best criminal investigation operations in the United States.

This is extremely important because politicians have routinely cut back or threatened to cut back these very important programs when they are trying to justify tax increases. This has left questions as to continued funding for these operations, and funding shortfalls have led to major backlogs in investigation and forensics operations.

In these days of increasingly complex crimes involving identity theft, drug manufacturing and dealing, and forgery, not to mention sex crimes where DNA analysis is so critical, we need a first-class criminal investigation, forensics, and crime lab operation to ensure the convictions of the guilty and the clearing of the truly innocent. This entire operation is also a great benefit to local police departments and sheriff departments who turn to the state police for assistance in these complex matters.

The second challenge – local control of crime – is met by the second part of this initiative. Half of the 15% goes to counties for crime prevention programs, additional investigation and field work by sheriffs’ departments and for additional resources for prosecutors. With the limitations on property taxes and the obligation to fully fund their sheriffs, counties have not been able to put the necessary dollars into investigation, prevention, and prosecution. This part of the initiative is a form of revenue sharing which guarantees ongoing support to the counties without meddling by the legislature.

There is a precise formula in the constitutional amendment which divides 30% of the counties’ funds equally among the 36 counties and 70% by population among the counties. This assures that even low-population counties will have the necessary minimum flow of dollars to carry on effective programs.

Many ask: Won’t this cut back on lottery funding for other activities? Because of the dramatic growth of the lottery, the answer is no. Lottery profits have grown an average of 23% for the last four biennia (two-year cycles). Projections are that they will grow at least this much in the first biennium after this measure is enacted. Accordingly, public safety will receive 15% of lottery dollars which will be at least at 123% of current profit levels. This assures currently-funded programs that there will be at least 6% growth in funds available to them even if the public safety fund is established.

We make no judgment about whether or not we should have a lottery in this initiative. We simply assert that important public safety needs can be addressed so long as the lottery does exist.

Our best example is the 15% of lottery profits devoted to parks, fish, and wildlife. Ever since this citizen initiative was passed, we have seen a vast improvement in the establishment and maintenance of parks, as well as fish and wildlife programs. It was very important for parks to have a predictable source of funds since they often lost out in the program contest known as the appropriations process.

Just as our parks have prospered with such funding, we will be able to greatly enhance public safety with similar funding.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 18 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    Everyone in Oregon should be behind this 100%. There is no function of governmnet more important than safety…NONE. Our lousy politicos in Salem have been spending money like drunken sailors, but not on safety. They would rather give tuition breaks to people who are here illegally than fund public safety.
    It is an abomination how they have ignored our public saftey funding.
    VOTE YES on this one! No question about it. NONE.

    Thanks Kevin!

  • Alan

    Kevin is wrong. We should fund police through another increase in the tobacco tax. We must invest all of our most important government responsibilities on this most cherished and beloved tax source.

  • devietro

    I like it, I like it a lot (maybe thats why I signed it). Overall I think it will pass no questions asked. Seriously what are they going to run for opposition ads “Lottery profits are needed for funding schools that dont work, instead of keeping sex predators away from your playground”

  • eagle eye

    Kevin, tell me the cost and how you plan to pay for it, and then I will consider it.

    • Jerry

      What are you talking about? The cost is going to be that percentage of the lottery. That is how it is paid. What kind of question is this? A joke, perhaps, that I missed? Or are you really serious?
      There is no single better expenditure I can think of than public safety. If you are not safe, what else matters?

      • eagle eye

        The point is the lottery funds are being used for a variety of programs now. I want to know how this proposal will affect the distribution of lottery funds. Will current programs receive less of the lottery pie? If so, which ones and how much will they be cut. In other words, tell me the consequences.

        Also, I’m very skeptical whenever somebody points to sky-high revenue growth and assumes it will continue forever. I saw enough of how that works with the stock market crash and the subsequent crunch to state income tax revenues. His assurances of 6% growth per biennium for current programs aren’t very reassuring. And anyhow. who says 6% growth is enough? Is public safety being held to 6% growth lately?

        • Jeff

          Congratulations Blind Eagle Eye – you missed the rather large paragraph at the bottom that explained that since lottery profits are averaging a 23% increase per 2-year cycle that the 15% will come out of that increase, not affecting anything getting existing lottery funds.

          • eagle eye

            Congratulations, Mutt, you have missed my point entirely, which is that the State of Oregon will endure beyond 2 years, and that the lottery will not always be increasing at that rate. What is the plan for then, is what I want to know.

            It’s related to his other plan, to up the Measure 11 type penalties to more crimes. At what cost and to whom?

            This is the kind of thinking that got the national Republicans into trouble.

          • Crawdude

            EE, transpose cigarette tax for lottery and you have my exact question about M50. What happens when the cigerettes taxes decrease due to people quitting and the program can’t be fully funded?

            No one has been willing to answer that one, I will be voting NO on M50 because of that and the fact it is being put in the Constitution. I’ll also be voting no on this one if it were to be adopted as an initiative for the same reasons.

          • eagle eye

            dude, we see eagle eye to eye on this. I too am voting against M50, and I haven’t smoked in many a year. If it passes, I hope everyone quits smoking and the state tobacco revenue craters. It would serve them right. I hope it fails though.

        • Jerry

          Fine – but let me assure you that none of the expeditures of the lottery money at this time are more important than safety…that was my point…so who cares if something else takes a hit???

          • eagle eye

            Sorry, I don’t buy the idea that public safety deserves unlimited funding and nothing else is important.

  • Anonymous

    I am sure the teachers unions will run scare ads, but they will simply be “this measure will strip money away from our schools and our children” without telling anyone where the money will go.

  • Steven

    Thank you Kevin for your efforts. Where are the elected officials when you need them?

    Kevin a serious question for you, would you run for Mayor in Portland?

    We need a real man and someone that is not afraid to face real issues in charge of the one of the most corrupt cities on the west coast.

    Come and clean up dodge city Kevin, we need you here.

  • CRAWDUDE

    Now the GOP’ers are messing with the Oregon constitution…………kinda pushes the mute button on the NO on 50 arguments.

    I like the idea of putting 15% into public safety (It’s for the kids) but couldn’t this have worked as a statute?

  • BG Portland

    No you cannot place a tax measure in the constitution. No way. I am voting NO on 50 for that reason, and no other. The place for money bills is the House, not the constitution. Get that simple civics 101 concept inot you heads!

  • Gienie

    Can someone define to me what “Public Safety” means. Here in Eugene it means funding services like Planned parenthood and White Bird Clinic (drug rehab).

    I think if we’re going to use the term “Public Safety” it should be defined fully. And not used to manipulate the voter into believing their tax dollars are being spent on something useful.

    To me… public safety means services like Ambulance, 24/hr Police Coverage, implementation of jail time rulings and no early releases for criminals because of the lack of funds, etc…

    I have a problem when my tax dollars go to other services… particularly those which, in my opinion, do not fall under the catagory of “Public Safety”.

  • Layne

    I’m with you guys who question changing the Constitution.

    I already voted, and I voted NO on this one *solely because it proposed to change the Constitution.* Tampering with Oregon’s organic law, from which all other law originates, is frivolous.

    For the rest of you sheep, take a closer look at what’s happening around you — “public safety” is rapidly coming to mean “police state.” We live in one now.

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