From The Statesman Journal:
By: Peter Wong
A big majority of a citizen review panel backs voter approval of Measure 85.
“We believe Measure 85 would be an improvement to the current policy,” said David McCarty of Oregon
City, who spoke Friday for the 19 citizen members favoring it.
Cheryl Bunner of Springfield read a statement on behalf of the five panel members who opposed it.
“We feel it will create the illusion” that Oregon has resolved its problems with boom-and- bust funding of schools and state services from the tax-supported general fund, she said.
“If you send it, they will spend it,” she said of lawmakers, who would have control over how the money is spent.
They and others spoke at a news conference on the Capitol steps.
The 24 panelists spent a week at the Salem Conference Center listening to arguments from the measure’s
supporters and opponents, asking questions and summoning their own experts, and writing statements to
be published in the state voters pamphlet and posted in the online voters guide
Measure 85 is sponsored by Our Oregon, which is backed largely by public employee unions. Despite its
absence from presentations earlier this week, other supporting organizations filled in.
Pete Bann of Eugene said the panel did ask about the absence of a presentation from Our Oregon, but
members obtained sufficient information from others.
Both sides of the panel agreed that while the measure would redirect excess corporate income taxes —
which now are rebated to businesses when collections exceed projections by 2 percent — it would not
prevent lawmakers from using that money to offset other funds for schools.
They also said they saw no evidence that the corporate “kicker,” which has existed since 1979, helps or
Measure 85 would leave intact a “kicker” for personal income taxes.
The most recent amounts were in 2007, when the state rebated $1.1 billion to individual taxpayers but
diverted $344 million from corporate rebates into a general reserve fund. Some small businesses did get
refunds through other means.
Terry Helfrich of Phoenix was one of several panelists who praised the process of analyzing the ballot
measure. “Being a member of the panel gave me a chance to sit down with regular folks like myself and have an honest, thoughtful discussion about the future of our state,” he said. “This was a refreshing change from the influence of media and sound-bite politics we are bombarded with daily.”
This election cycle is the third for the Citizens’ Initiative Review, following a panel on one measure in 2008 and panels on two other measures in 2010. Last year, the Legislature created the Citizens Initiative Review Commission, which receives no state money and is funded by individual donations and foundation grants; it does not accept corporate or union money.
The process is overseen by Healthy Democracy Oregon.
Panel members are chosen to reflect Oregon’s geography and demographics.
A second panel is planned Aug. 20-24 in Portland to review Measures 82 and 83, which together would
authorize a private nonprofit casino at the former Multnomah Greyhound Park.