Kitzhaber says vote ‘no’ on Measure 97

1025-kitzhaberSalem, Ore. — A surprise “no” argument for Measure 97 from former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber.

Kitzhaber says there’s no doubt the state needs the money, but he says throwing more money at programs like the state’s health care system or education system won’t automatically produce better outcomes.

Kitzhaber says the state needs to fix the problem rather than put a band-aid on it.

He shared the following statement of Facebook:


I will be voting against Ballot Measure 97 and urge you to consider doing the same. Because many of my friends and former political allies support this measure, I want to explain why I have decided to oppose it.

First, let me say that my position is not based on many of the arguments that are currently choking the airwaves. There is no question but that we need more money in the general fund to close a $1.4 billion structural budget deficit; and to better support important public services. And, yes, I believe that corporate Oregon can afford to contribute quite a bit more to support these priorities. Indeed, the goals of the Oregon Business Plan cannot be achieved without a significant additional investment.

The problem is that BM 97 proposes to spend an additional $6 billion a biennium on current programs; regardless of whether those programs are actually producing the outcomes we want. In other words, the ballot measure is based on the assumption that all we need to get better outcomes is more money to fund existing programs. That is clearly not the case in our health care system, or in our system of public education.

Furthermore, the sheer magnitude of the new revenue being proposed (a thirty-one percent increase in the general fund) will eliminate any motivation for fixing the “education funding disconnect,” created by Ballot Measures 5 and 50 (passed in 1990 and 1997 respectively), which regularly results in unsustainable contracts for existing school employees with long-term costs that exceed state revenue growth. This, in turn, has led to a perpetual “funding crisis,” in which, no matter how much we add to the State School Fund, we are unable to see smaller class sizes or longer school years; or to improve our educational outcomes. This problem–which will not be fixed by Ballot Measure 97—is discussed in detail on my website.

Oregon definitely needs more money in its general fund—somewhere in the range of another $2 to 2.5 billion a biennium—but that new revenue must be accompanied by legislative action to reduce cost and improve outcomes through program innovation (as we did in creating our Coordinated Care Organizations) and to correct the post BM 5 education funding disconnect, without which we will be unable to reduce class size, lengthen the school year or improve our high school graduation rates.…/2016/10/18/the-funding-disco…

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