The cat’s out of the bag.
Now we know what the Democrats and their union allies want with Measure 97.
It’s not the measure as written, with its deceptive promises of more money for education, healthcare and senior services. It’s $6 billion more out of taxpayer’s pockets each biennium that the Democrats can use to grow government, cover their disastrous PERS decisions over the years, reward their friends and punish their enemies.
Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), when endorsing the measure in late 2015, said it would eliminate much of the constant need to choose between funding critical budget concerns each legislative session. “If that passes, we’ll have a lot of money to pay for stuff,” Greenlick said.
Oregonians who support Measure 97 because they believe Democrats’ claims that the revenue would be committed to education, healthcare and senior services are going to be mighty disillusioned if the Measure passes because, the fact is, the Legislature will be able to do just about anything it pleases with the resulting revenue.
On Aug. 1, 2016, the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Counsel confirmed this when it released an opinion. “Section 3 would not bind a future legislature in its spending decisions,” wrote Chief Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson in the opinion. “If Measure 97 becomes law, the Legislative Assembly may appropriate revenues generated by the measure in any way it chooses.”
It turns out that the Democrat-controlled Legislature could even change how the revenue is raised. Some people probably support Measure 97 now because they want to “put it to big business.” But there’s nothing to stop the Democrat-controlled Legislature from changing the entire tax formula, so long as it doesn’t result in more tax revenue, according to the Oct. 18 Portland Tribune. Only a simple majority of the Legislature would be required to approve changes in the formula, or anything else.
Sen. Mark Haas, D-Beaverton, Chairman of the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee, told the Tribune the Legislature can expect “a cavalcade of 10,000 lobbyists from every industry with valid stories about why their rates should be lower.”
And every one of those lobbyists will be expected to back up their pleas with campaign contributions, further exacerbating the already excessive role of money in Oregon politics.
A senior Democratic Legislator once defended Measure 97 as the best solution because there was no other option. Clearly, even the Democrats now believe that’s not the case.