Measure 99

Argument in Opposition

The Oregon Economic Development Association opposes Measure 99 for two reasons.

First, the bill hurts Oregon families and communities. It permanently takes away funding for economic and business development that directly grows jobs in our state, primarily by helping existing Oregon companies stay here and expand.

Economic development is critical to the health of our communities. Last year alone, the state’s economic development agency helped companies retain or create more than 8,800 private sector jobs, overwhelmingly in small businesses. These jobs are family livelihoods in urban and rural communities across Oregon. By taking away funds for economic development, Measure 99 hurts the people it intends to help.

Second, Measure 99 threatens the state’s fiscal health. Oregon’s general fund is fueled by jobs, in the form of income taxes. Personal income taxes comprise more than 85% of the general fund. Thanks to the efforts of economic development, the state’s revenue is expected to grow by $1.5 billion in the coming budget because more Oregonians are being hired and seeing their paychecks increase. Without efforts to create and retain these well-paying jobs, Oregon loses.

Every year, Oregon continues to give smaller portions of lottery revenues to economic development and job creation, though it was the very reason Oregon voters created the lottery in 1984. Back then, most of our lottery dollars went to economic development. Today, only 27 percent of these valuable lottery funds support job creation and retention.

While the Oregon Economic Development Association supports the intent of helping youth connect with our natural resources, Measure 99 achieves it at the expense of economic development funding. It will have the effect of “killing the goose that is laying the golden eggs” for communities and families across Oregon. Our state budget—and all the services we enjoy as Oregonians, such as schools and parks—will feel the impact.

We hope you agree that Measure 99, while well-intended, is bad policy for Oregon.

(This information furnished by Jon Stark, Vice President, Board of Directors, Oregon Economic Development Association.)

Argument in Opposition

How could anyone possibly be opposed to Outdoor School for All?

What’s not to like – fresh air, swimming, climbing ropes and trees, communing with nature, making friends at camp.

The problem is that Outdoor School isn’t for all. It’s for some. And it’s an expensive camp at that. It costs $22 million a year (that’s $44 million per biennium), and it will be taken from lottery proceeds that currently go to the state’s economic development.

Funds that now support small businesses and the Oregon Television and Film Office would be shifted to pay for Outdoor School. What does a week of camp have to do with economic development?

Another bit of political word-play in Measure 99: It carefully states that “every” student should have the “opportunity” to go to camp. Specifically, these opportunities would be in the form of grants issued by the OSU Extension Service to school districts that are “consistent with provisions” of Senate Bill 439.

What exactly are these provisions? They are listed in 23 sections and subsections of SB 439, which most voters won’t have time to study, so let me help you: These opportunities for camp will go to school districts with higher scores on “standardized measures of academic achievement,” “fewer discipline and classroom management problems,” “increased student engagement,” and “greater enthusiasm for language arts, math, science and social studies.”

Who will decide which districts meet these provisions and should take priority? An advisory committee, unaccountable to the public, will decide.

Measure 99 is not Outdoor School for All. It’s another Camp Bureaucracy, which this state already has enough of.

Full disclosure: I voted for SB 439 before Outdoor School supporters decided to seize economic development funds to pay for their camp. I would have never voted for it had I known it would be at the expense of this state’s fragile economic recovery.

State Senator Betsy Johnson

(This information furnished by Elizabeth Johnson.)