It's time to sharpen the pencil: Ballots from Multnomah County soon will be appearing in a mailbox near you.
Multnomah County will send out general election ballots beginning Oct. 20; they must be returned to the elections office no later than 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. Check the division's Web site, www.co.multnomah .or.us/dbcs/ elections/, for locations of drop-off boxes. See part 1 on October 5 for measures 39-42, and part 2 on October 12 for measures 43-45.
This week, The Skanner completes its overview of the statewide ballot measures. Two of them — Ballot Measures 46 and 47 — are similar, and supporters and opponents tend to discuss them at the same time. As a result, we are looking at them together, as well.
Ballot Measure 48 places an additional spending limit on the state, based on the amount Oregon's population increases, plus the inflation rate.
The following ballot measures will be considered by voters:
Ballot Measure 46: Amends the constitution; allows laws regulating election contributions, expenditures adopted by initiative or ¾ of both legislative houses.
If you vote yes: A yes vote would amend the constitution to allow laws to be enacted that limit or prohibit political campaign contributions or expenditures if those laws are approved by three-fourths of both houses of the Legislature.
If you vote no: A no vote would retain the current ban in the Oregon Constitution on laws that limit or prohibit political campaign contributions or expenditures by any person or entity.
The Oregon Constitution currently doesn't allow laws that limit or prohibit campaign contributions or expenditures for state and local elections. Under Ballot Measure 46, the Oregon Legislature or voters by initiative would have the authority to limit or restrict such contributions. While only a simple majority of the Legislature is required to pass all other laws, this measure would require three-fourths of the state House and the Senate to adopt campaign finance laws. The restrictions would not apply to campaigns for federal offices, such as U.S. president, senator or representative.
Ballot Measure 47: Revises campaign finance laws; limits or prohibits contributions and expenditures; adds disclosure, new reporting requirements.
If you vote yes: A "yes" vote would limit or prohibit certain contributions and expenditures to candidates, political committees and political parties. It also would limit a candidate's spending to his or her own campaign and it adds new reporting requirements.
If you vote no: A "no" vote retains the current law, which doesn't limit contributors, contributions to or expenditures for state or local public office candidates.
The current law requires the reporting of certain contributions and expenditures but doesn't limit who can contribute or how much they can contribute. Ballot Measure 47 would limit the individual contributions to candidates, political committees, "small donor committees" and political parties by placing an annual cap for all contributions and restricts candidates and political parties from contributing to each other. Corporations, unions and other organizations also would be prohibited from making contributions to candidates or political parties, and candidates could not loan money to campaigns; candidates would be allowed to contribute to their own campaigns, however.
Those who support Ballot Measures 46 and 47 say: The ballot measures would reduce the power of corporations and special interests that can influence candidates through their corporations, according to supporters. Elections will be more fair and competitive, they say, and individuals will maintain the freedom to contribute to any candidate. Oregon is only one of a few states without contribution limitations.
Supporters: Supporters of Ballot Measures 46 and 47 include: FairElections Oregon, Jackson County Citizens for the Public Good, Injured Workers' Alliance, and the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group.
Those who oppose Ballot Measures 46 and 47 say: The ballot measures threaten the freedom of speech and would limit the ability of candidates and nonprofit organizations to educate voters about their issues. Contributors also would be limited in how much money they can give to support candidates and issues, thereby restricting their participation in the electoral process. In addition, opponents say, the limits would enable only the wealthy to run for office; working people who wish to be candidates would have to spend much of their time raising money from individuals who are limited to $500 while wealthy people can spend their own money on themselves.
Opponents: Those who oppose Ballot Measures 46 and 47 include: the American Civil Liberties Union, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Oregon Right to Life, Oregon Family Council, NARAL, Basic Rights Oregon, American Federation of Teachers-Oregon, SEIU Locals 49 and 503, Oregon AFSCME and Oregon AFL-CIO. Ballot Measure 48: Amends the constitution by limiting the biennial percentage in state spending to the percentage increase in Oregon's population plus inflation.
If you vote yes: A yes vote would amend the state constitution to require a limit the amount the Legislature can budget for state expenditures to the percentage increase in Oregon's population, plus inflation.
If you vote no: A no vote would retain the present Oregon statute that caps appropriations based on personal income.
Oregon law currently limits state appropriations to 8 percent of projected personal income in Oregon. If the governor declares an emergency, the Legislature can exceed the current statutory limit by a 60 percent vote in each house.
Measure 48, would limit state funding from one biennium to the next to a percentage increase in the state's population, plus inflation over the previous two years, with certain exceptions to the limit. That spending could be exceeded by an amount approved by two-thirds of each house of the Legislature and by the majority of voters voting in a general election.
The measure would not apply to money spent for tax and "kicker" refunds or money placed in an emergency fund or "rainy day" reserve fund. Money placed into an emergency or "rainy day" fund would not be available for state spending in excess of the spending limit without a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate and approval by the voters.
The Legislative Fiscal Office estimates that the measure in the upcoming biennium would restrict the spending of approximately $2.2 billion out of about $35.6 billion in revenues estimated to be subject to the limit. The Legislature could refund those restricted funds to taxpayers, place them in a "rainy day" fund, leave them in the treasury or, with a two-thirds vote of each legislative house, refer a spending plan to the voters.
What supporters say about Ballot Measure 48: The ballot measure would limit irresponsible spending but not strangle the growth of state spending, supporters say. It would supply a "voters' veto" when the Legislature wants to exceed the spending limit and still create a "rainy day" fund for future expenditures, such as when a recession hits the state.
Supporters: Supporters include chief petitioner Don McIntyre, author of other tax limitation measures including "Ballot Measure 5"; Oregon Business Roundtable.
Those who oppose Ballot Measure 48 say: A "rainy day" fund should not be set aside until the state invests enough to improve education, health care, public transportation and other services, supporters say. The measure makes it too difficult to spend the "rainy day" surplus, they argue, because two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature and a statewide majority vote would be required. They cite a similar measure adopted in Colorado, which they call a "complete failure." The measure would cause cuts in education, public safety and other services. They also point out that the measure is retroactive: It could reduce the previous budget adopted by the Legislature by $2.5 billion and the 2007-2009 budget by $4.9 billion
Opponents: Opponents include Gov. Ted Kulongoski; Oregon's seven public university presidents; Oregon State Police Officers Association; sheriffs from Douglas, Umatilla, Lincoln and Wasco counties; Oregon State Fire Fighters Council; Oregon Education Association; and AFSCME.
See our Opinion page for The Skanner's recomendations on how to vote.