Measure 102, a legislative referral that will appear on the November ballot, is something of a rare bird. It’s nearly impossible to find someone to speak out against it.
They should not. It deserves your support.
The measure would amend the state constitution, which bars cities and counties from raising money for a private corporation, company or association. The ban goes back to the original, 1857, state constitution, though it was amended in 1917 to give ports the right to sell bonds.
Today, the provision makes it impossible for cities and counties to ask their voters to approve bond measures for affordable housing, which in this state is generally built by private entities using public funds as part of the financing mix. And with nearly 14,000 homeless men, women and children in Oregon, according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, that’s a problem.
The amendment would not end homelessness, to be sure. Rather it would give voters in Salem or Bend or Portland or Burns the right to decide for themselves whether or not to put local tax dollars toward the problem. As is generally the case, voters in some communities will think that’s a good idea; others, not so much.
But that’s the way such decisions should be made, at the local level and by the people who will pick up the tab. Measure 102, then, is as much about local control as it is about affordable housing. And that’s why it should be approved.