Election Day in the United States is still more than three weeks away. But here at home ballots will hit the post office next Friday, Oct. 21. So this election season we’re giving you our ballot recommendations in plenty of time for you to contemplate and respond to, if you like.
Today we’ll examine the selection of ballot measures to decide.
This Saturday we’ll look at candidates for office, and this year we’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of endorsing certain individuals and urging you to vote for them, we think it’s more constructive to suggest candidates to avoid.
But that will come later this week. For now, here are our recommendations for both state and local level ballot measures.
On the state level are these questions:
- Measure 94 to repeal the mandatory judicial retirement age, which is currently 75 years old.
- Measure 95 to allow public state universities to invest in equities.
- Measure 96 to devote 1.5 percent of state lottery net proceeds toward veterans' services.
- Measure 97 to raise corporate taxes on businesses with annual sales that exceed $25 million.
- Measure 98 to require state funding for dropout-prevention and career and college readiness programs in Oregon high schools.
- Measure 99 to create an "Outdoor School Education Fund," sourced from state lottery proceeds, to support outdoor school programs.
- Measure 100 to prohibit the sale of products from and parts of 12 species of endangered animals.
We recommend voting yes on all but one — Measure 97, the corporate tax.
Proponents say the measure finally make corporations pay a fair share of taxes to the state. And they promise the revenues would be directed primarily toward education, health care and senior services.
But as we argued on Aug. 9, we see both those positions as flawed. First, there will be no assurance that corporations will simply carve from profits to pay a new tax. The easier way to pay the tax is to raise prices to customers, effectively turning the measure into a sales tax.
Second, there is no way to ensure how the revenues will be spent. What a legislature promises today doesn’t bind lawmakers into the future.
Measure 97 will, we believe, end up prying more revenues out of individual hard-working Oregonians, not big corporations.
At the local level, ballot measures include whether to establish a fund for the county’s eight non-profit history museums. Passage would impose a tax on real property of 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. In addition to helping fund local museums, the measure would allow county residents free museum admittance. We say vote yes.
Also on the ballot is the question of enacting a 3-percent sales tax on recreational marijuana at the county level and for the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend. Coos Bay and Myrtle Point residents also need to decide whether to allow marijuana sales in the first place.
We think the time’s come for taxing authorities to accept public sentiment and allow for marijuana sales and take advantage of the new revenue stream. In Coos Bay and North Bend and the county, that means a yes vote on these issues. In Myrtle Point, vote no to end the current prohibition and allow merchants to set up shop.
In Bandon, residents should say yes to a water utility rate increase of $10 on residential bills and $20 on businesses. Two years ago we spoke out against a rate increase. This time around, Bandon leaders have been clear and transparent on what the needs are, and a rate hike makes sense.
North Bend and Coos Bay voters also should approve the 4-cent-per-gallon fuel tax to help fund road repairs. Both communities need to approve for the tax to become reality. The time’s long since passed for this measure to earn a thumbs up.