Ballot measures could affect state spending and revenue levels

How ballot measures would affect revenue

How ballot measures could have significant effect on how public services are funded.

Passage of several of the dozen measures on Oregon’s Nov. 4 ballot could have significant effect on how public services are funded by the state, according to information compiled by Jock Mills, director of OSU’s Government Relations Office, in consultation with the Legislative Revenue Office.

How Measures 57, 59 and 61 might affect Oregon State University and the Oregon University System is impossible to tell at this point because decisions about where to cut budgets or offset revenue reductions will not be made until the Legislature meets next year.

Ballot Measures 57 and 61 would mandate prison terms and other sanctions for those who commit property crimes.

Ballot Measure 59 would reduce revenues available to the state by increasing tax deductions.

On the accompanying graphic, the “Essential Budget Level” is the amount of state spending needed to deliver the same level of service provided in the current biennium.

Current forecasts project an EBL deficit of $500 million even if none of the measures are approved by voters. If Measure 57 passes, the deficit could increase to $700 million. If Measure 61 is adopted by voters, the deficit could grow to $800 million.

And if Measure 59 also passes, the deficit would increase to nearly $2 billion.

Even if the ballot measures do not pass, the deficit for next biennium could increase, if revenues continue to fall.  The next revenue forecast will be in late November/early December.  It is also possible that the first two months of the 2009 legislative session could be spent balancing the budget for the remaining six months of the current biennium due to declining revenues.

The graph shows how both expenditures and revenues will be affected by two ballot measures that would mandate expenditures and by one ballot measure that would decrease revenues.

Reductions in services would increase in future biennia when both measures are fully implemented.

Both Measures 57 and 61 would mandate sentences for property crimes.  Measure 57 would require substance abuse treatment instead of prison for some first time offenders.

Measure 61, sponsored by Kevin Mannix, is estimated to cost $249 million next biennium. Measure 57, referred to voters by the Legislature, and would cost $152 million in the first two years.

As provided by the Legislature, if  both measures pass in November, the measure that receives more votes will take effect.  This has caused a number of those who oppose all mandatory sentences to urge support for Measure 57 and opposition to Measure 61, Mills said.  Some contend a ‘no’ vote on 57 amounts to a ‘yes’ vote on 61 because voting ‘no’ on 57 will make it less likely to receive more votes than Measure 61.  For the same reason, proponents of Measure 61 are also urging voters to oppose Measure 57.

~ by Ed Curtin

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