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Faculty Forum Papers

October 1980 - No on 6 By

David J. Griffiths
Physics Deparment

October 17, 1980


     Ballot Measure 6 will be rerun at the polls this November 4. This is basically the same Measure we voted on and defeated in 1978, except that this time around it's even worse. Additionally, I have been told that the Measure, as it has been drafted, is constitutionally correct so there will be no loopholes allowing flexibility in its interpretation.

     Ballot Measure 6 proposes a rollback of assessed valuation to the 1977 level of which 1% would constitute the property tax base. It would then allow at most a 2% per annum increase in those assessed valuations - and all this with no current state surplus. Since many communities are committed to projects currently on their books and operations will have to compete with each other for the remaining funds available.

     What does Ballot Measure 6 mean for the people of Oregon under our current system of raising tax revenue (so different here from that in California and many other states in that we have the 6% limitation rule)? The statement I was given by the Government Relations Director of OSEA is that if Ballot Measure 6 were in effect last year, there would have been 52% reduction in local services. Figures specific to the City of Corvallis, which I received from our City Manager, independently confirm this statement to within a few percent. From a democratic point of view perhaps the most serious threat contained in Ballot Measure 6 is that it seeks to limit the concept of majority rule. Tax levies would require affirmation by 2/3 of the people voting in order to pass, i.e., only 1/3 or these voting could stop any such levy. As you know, many levies when passed are paid for by the issuance of general obligation bonds. Since bonding ability is basically proportional to the assessed valuation, a significant reduction in this capacity would accompany passage of Measure 6. Thus, sometime in the future, it would appear that a community could, after gaining the necessary 2/3 vote, find itself incapable of initiating its approved projects not because it lacks the ability to pay over the long haul but because it has exhausted its bonding limit. (Easily done on the basis of an assessment level determined in 1977 and incremented by, at most, 2% per annum since.)

     I need hardly remind you that public elementary and secondary education are programs funded from property taxes. Figures from the Legislative Revenue Office indicate that passage of Ballot Measure 6 would result in a 45% reduction of local participation in the public schools and a 55% reduction of that participation in the community colleges. This is in turn would force massive state aid with its attendant loss of local control.

     Many of you worked to defeat this Measure when it was presented two years ago. Since then, the legislature has provided tax relief and eliminated any legitimate need for Ballot Measure 6. I hope you will work against this Measure again this year to such an extent that it doesn't continue to surface at every subsequent election.

Vote NO on Ballot Measure 6 on November 4.