Street Roots' 2016 endorsements: Ballot measures

Yes on Measure 97. Yes For Affordable Homes. And more endorsements on local and statewide ballot measures.

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Photo by Bruce Davidson

Street Roots weighs in on local and statewide ballot measures relevant to our areas of news coverage. All conclusions were reached with consideration on how the laws will affect people experiencing poverty. Because Street Roots is a 501c3 nonprofit, we cannot endorse candidates for public office. (Read our Q&As with Portland and Multnomah County candidates.) In the case of measures not included, we are taking a neutral stance.


Statewide measures

Measure 96

Amends Constitution; dedicates 1.5 percent of state lottery net proceeds to support services for Oregon veterans


This money will go toward reintegration, employment, education benefits and tuition, as well as housing, physical and mental health care and addiction treatment programs for veterans. It also will assist veterans and their dependents in accessing unused state and federal benefits to the tune of $4 billion, according to the Oregon State Legislature, which referred the measure to the ballot. This $9.3 million annual investment will ensure the 350,000 Oregonians who served their country will have every opportunity to recover from that experience and access education. It will go toward alleviating the abysmal unemployment rate among returning veterans and reduce the often tragic wait times for service people seeking health care.

Measure 97

Increases corporate minimum tax when sales exceed $25 million; funds education, health care, senior services


This is a flawed measure, no question. But it swings the pendulum in the right direction and gives the Legislature a foundation to build upon. It needs to be modified to alleviate potential pressures on lower income residents, particularly regarding the increase of utility costs and health care. But the push has to come from somewhere, and low-income Oregonians are also already bearing the brunt of Oregon’s underfunded public schools and limited access to health care.

The rhetoric against this measure contains claims that it’s nothing more than a sales tax, costing Oregonians jobs and money. Opponents cite reports that have been questioned for their methodology. Additionally, corporations are spending tens of millions of dollars to protect their interests, not yours, in opposition to this measure. And their threat of retaliation against consumers by passing the cost down doesn’t ring true in light of national and global market forces.

We’re not being idealistic about this. But Oregon, of all states, shouldn’t continue subsidizing corporate interests while assuming that working-class and low-income Oregonians will keep picking up the slack. 

Even with its flaws, it’s the right first step.

FURTHER READING: A series of columns from Oregon economists about Measure 97

Measure 98

Requires state funding for dropout prevention, career and college readiness programs in Oregon high schools


Oregon’s rural communities are struggling to offer a K-12 education that not only keeps students in school until graduation, but also equips them with the skills needed for real jobs, from the tech industry to trade vocations. Our state’s high school dropout rate is around 30 percent. In rural high schools, shop and other technical classes have all but disappeared.

Measure 98 dedicates $147 million annually toward career and technical education, although it may be less if revenue forecasts are lowered. School districts would apply for grants with strict performance oversight to access funds. Our children need this.


Measure 99

Creates Outdoor School Education Fund, continuously funded through lottery, to provide outdoor school programs statewide 


The Outdoor School provides vital experiences for Oregon youths and reinforces statewide values around our environment and natural resources. It shouldn’t be taken for granted, and the opportunity should be available to all students, rich and poor, regardless of their school district.

Measure 100

Prohibits purchase or sale of parts or products from certain wildlife species; exceptions; civil penalties


If there is any Oregonian who needs an endorsement to decide how to vote on this measure, they’re in the wrong state. Our coast has become a port for trafficking endangered animal parts, including from rhinoceroses, elephants, tigers, sea turtles, leopards and others. Currently, state law only prohibits the sale of shark fins. This goes to the next critical and long-overdue step. Vote yes to join Washington and California in implementing stricter laws, and solidifying the West Coast as an obstacle to traffickers.