The advocates of what we here will call Measure 48 - no spin involved in that - aren't wasting time after absorbing fire the last few days. The addition of the measure, which seeks to hold state spending to predefined limits, to the November ballot has yielded a spate of news stories (and blog items from locations including this one) as well as pressure on candidates to take sides, for or against. And Measure 48 took a blow when the Republican nominee for governor, Ron Saxton, said that he will not support it and will vote against it.
Too much has been invested to stop or slow down, however. A post on Oregon Catalyst together with associated comments usefully outlines two of the next lines of attack we'll be seeing as the battle over definition and framing gets underway.
Measure 48 is a whole lot like something called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights - acronymed TABOR - which got an extended statewide workout in Colorado from its passage in 1992 until last fall. What happened during that period is that public finance in Colorado tanked, to the point that by last year many of TABOR's leading 1992 advocates - including the Republican governor - were pleading with the voters to put it on the shelf, lest public finance be wrecked for a generation. The voters, opting not to accept hundred of millions of dollars which would have gone into their pockets, obliged. That's the track record.
It is true that Measure 48 isn't a photocopy of Colorado's TABOR; it focuses more on state government and provides for some setaside funds. Some of the roughest edges are worn down. But the guiding principle is the same. The Oregonian's editorial page (edited by Robert Caldwell) seized on that today, and its linkage of Measure 48 to TABOR was quickly attacked in turn by a TABOR advocate.
With little similarities between Colorado's TABOR and our M48 this November, Caldwell has shown once again an extraordinary ability to discard the truth and ethics in pursuit of manipulating a public vote. Nothing new about that, but today Bob truly wallows with election charlatans as he takes his early dishonest shots at M48. Wishing to taint the measure and complicate the otherwise simplistic framework of M48 Caldwell doesn't want voters to know details such as:
TABOR limited ALL State and local government taxing appropriations (collections) in Colorado.
M48 will only limit State spending leaving excess collections for a rainy day fund.
TABOR disallowed any Rainy Day Fund.
M48 makes one automatic as collections will certainly exceed spending.
The argument over technical differences between 48 and TABOR may bog down, however, so the measure's advocates also have another weapon handy: Framing the measure as the Rainy Day Amendment - a measure setting up a rainy day fund. (Who knows, the strategists probably figured: It might even draw in a few unwary liberals that way).
This will be hard-fought. And the winner will either have convinced the voters that Measure 48 is just a Rainy Day Amendment, or that it's a whitewashed version of Colorado's TABOR. The battle is joined.