By editorial board • 

Not much to like in this year’s crop of measures

The seven measures making Oregon’s 2016 general election ballot are a motley group, often featuring poor conception or poor execution, if not both. We can find full favor with only three, none of which figures to affect most Oregonians much.

We could be facing a far longer list.

More than 80 initiatives were filed this year. Historically, we once faced 37 in a single year, and twice faced a still daunting 32. We have been averaging a dozen over the last 10 general elections, held only in even-numbered years, so a mere seven amounts to something of a reprieve.

We recommend yes votes on Measure 94, lifting the arbitrary requirement that judges step down at 75; Measure 95, freeing state universities to join everyone else in investing capital reserves in equity markets; and Measure 100, prohibiting possession or sale of body parts from endangered species of animals.

Measures 94 and 95 would lift needless regulations limiting prudent exercise of good judgment, and Measure 100 would protect endangered species from heartless exploitation. They aren’t of particularly broad impact, but are opposition-free and easy to endorse.

Measure 96 would amend the Oregon Constitution to mandate allocation of 1.5 percent of lottery revenue to veterans’ services. Because veterans’ services are administered almost exclusively by the federal government, the money is aimed at helping veterans connect with services — something every county is already doing.

The City Club of Portland has taken exception on four grounds: 1) Locking spending for a single program into the constitution, thus limiting ability to react to hard times and changing needs; 2) Diverting lottery money from other worthy causes, notably education, without demonstrating any pressing new need; 3) Counting on a flow of new federal benefits to offset new spending, with no accounting in support; 4) Offering no assurance new funding wouldn’t simply free existing funding for other uses, providing no net gain. We concur on all counts.

Measure 98 would funnel dedicated funds into another commendable but narrow purpose — dropout prevention and college and career readiness programs. It would thus have some of the same negative effects — limiting ability to let circumstances shape budgets, diverting money from other uses without demonstrated cause and offering no assurance new funding wouldn’t simply replace existing.

Measure 99 would raid the lottery pot for yet another feel-good cause — outdoor school programs, which virtually every school in the state already offers. We harbor the same objections — a burdensome new state mandate imposed for no good reason.

None of these needs, however commendable, is going unmet. They don’t demand new state mandates, inevitably creating burdensome new regulations requiring oversight by yet another layer of bureaucracy.

On the plus side: We judge only one truly, catastrophically awful — Measure 97. We plan to devote an entire editorial to our objections, so will let it pass without further mention here.

We urge voters to observe a time-honored guideline: If in doubt, just vote no.


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