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Posts tagged as “initiative”

Sizemore’s impact over?

Bill Sizemore

Bill Sizemore

Think of him what you will, Bill Sizemore has been one of they key figures in Oregon politics for a dozen years and more.

He was behind a major property tax initiative in 1996, ran for governor (quite unsuccessfully) two years later, and has worked on a long string of ballot issues ever since; and he has also had legal problems, including a case still underway in court. Through all of this Sizemore's operations have been funded by two monied businessmen, Loren Parks (now of Nevada) and Dick Wendt (of Jeld-Wen at Klamath Falls). they have made it all possible.

But maybe no longer. Carla Axtman at Blue Oregon is reporting that Parks and Wendy seem to have pulled their support. If that's so, it marks prospective big turning point in Oregon's initiative culture.

Initiative misdirection

The latest Tim Eyman special is truly classic misdirection - an initiative that would, if passed, seek to do something a whole lot different than its backers are proclaiming. Without telling you very exactly what that something different is.

Here's what Eyman says: "We have a proposal for 2009 that aggressively tackles our state's property tax crisis. It's called the Lower Property Taxes Initiative. Our tax burden keeps growing faster and faster and government keeps getting bigger and bigger - the people are losing control. The Lower Property Taxes Initiative is our last, best chance to gain control of our government."

It is spun as a property tax limitation proposal. But that's not exactly what it does; the core of that comes in this a little further down: "This measure would limit the growth of state, county, and city general fund revenue, not including new voter-approved revenue, to the annual rate of inflation. Revenue above this limit would be used to reduce property taxes."

In other words, what it gets at directly is overall spending limits, the same sort of trouble-prone device we've seen across the last generation. What it has in common with those long list of efforts (which started with California's Prop 13 all of 30 years ago) is the placing of a ceiling on governmental spending, but no indication of how those budget limitations will be managed - where the resulting cuts will be. Like so many other initiatives before it, it says, "I don't wanna pay," but is silent on the other side of the equation: What should be tossed overboard.

Which is why it explicitly isn't the "last, best chance to gain control of our government." It might be if Eyman filled in both sides of the equation; by leaving one side blank, voters would be no more in control of their government with the initiative than without it. (We've long thought an initiative aimed at cutting specific government activities would be a far for responsible approach than cuts on the revenue side.)

Will it pass? Maybe - anti-tax initiatives are always popular. But then, voters should see the impact of this coming a mile away.