SALEM - Measure 28, a legislative referral seeking to temporarily increase income taxes for Oregonians, failed by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin on Jan. 28.
The tax measure was voted down in every county except for Benton, Gilliam, Multnomah and Polk counties. In Grant County, the margin was 77 percent against and 23 percent in favor. A total of 3,242 Grant County voters cast ballots, and an overwhelming 2,504 voters said "no" while only 738 voted for the measure. Turnout in Grant County was 73 percent; statewide voter turnout was 70 percent (494,509 against to 392,965 in favor).
As a result of the measure's failure, local school districts will receive less money than expected for fiscal year 2002-2003. The shortfalls are estimated as follows:
Dayville (District No. 16J) - $24,000 (est.); $400 per average daily membership is the estimated drop. ADM is an enrollment-based formula.
John Day (District No. 3) - $160,000
Long Creek (District No. 17) - $27,000
Monument (District No. 8) - $27,000
Prairie City (District No. 4) - $50,000
More about the impact to local schools will appear in a future edition of the Blue Mountain Eagle.
Groups opposed to the three-year tax measure lauded the result.
"Taxpayers by a large margin defeated Measure 28 the income tax increase despite our opponents outspending our side $500,000 to $40,000," stated Taxpayer Association of Oregon, "despite the neverending horror stories by the media characterized by pollster Tim Hibbits: 'There hasn't been a day gone by without some story in the newspapers about the supposed devastating effect of these cuts. ...', despite the tens of thousands of local government mailings at taxpayers expense explaining 'their' perspective on the measure and the other mailings like the Department of Human Services 65,000 mailing. Despite all these overwhelming odds, the measure still failed by a huge margin!"
Measure 28 would have provided $313 million to prevent immediate cuts in the current 2001-2003 budget ending June 30, plus $412 million to minimize cuts in the 2003-05 budget cycle that begins July 1.
Oregon Tax Research, a Portland-based policy organization, wrote: "Oregon continues to be among the highest spending states in the nation despite having a tax burden that is relatively low among the states. Even without Measure 28, state government in Oregon will grow by 5.6 percent in the current biennium."
Property-tax limitation under Measure 5 contributes to the state's low taxation comparison.
Public educators hoped to win an uphill battle and convince voters to pass Measure 28. On Jan. 20, more than 5,000 people gathered for a rally on the steps of the State Capitol "to demonstrate the need for adequate and stable funding for public education," reported the Oregon Education Association, organizer of the rally. Representatives of the Oregon School Boards Association, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, the Coalition for School Funding Now!, the Oregon Parent Teacher Association, Oregon School Employees Association and the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon also attended.
"Rally participants sang songs, chanted, 'Step up now!,' and waved signs with messages in support of Measure 28 and stable education funding. At the close of the rally, participants marched through the State Capitol building. Many used the opportunity to meet with legislators to discuss education funding," OEA reported.