The Downside of Measure 68

At first glance, Measure 68 on this year’s Oregon Primary election ballot seems harmless enough. It would allow school districts to borrow money for capital improvements, including “land and other assets associated with acquisition, construction, improvement, remodeling, maintenance and repair.” The measure also would allow the state to borrow money and to match bonds approved by local voters.

Southern Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett worries that Measure 68 will enable the state, in effect, to max out its credit card easier than it can now. With the state facing huge financial pressures in the next biennium, he is concerned that we may be “”¦one little disaster away from not having any credit rating at all.”

While the measure thankfully prohibits the state from imposing a property tax to pay back the bonds it might issue, it does dedicate 15 percent of Lottery proceeds toward a new fund to help pay down the bonds.

As Gresham-Barlow school board member Dan Chriestensen suggests, this “”¦appears to add yet another ornament on the Lottery Christmas tree”¦.Given that the state would not be required to match funds”¦this would appear to invite a great deal of cronyism, favoritism, etc. The creation of the school capital matching fund looks like another slush fund for politicians and bureaucrats to play with.”

There is no organized opposition to Measure 68, just individuals like the senator and the school board member quoted above. And just maybe, voters like you.

Steve Buckstein is founder and senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.