Despite a questionable economy, deep concerns about inflation and cynicism towards big government, Oregonians have shown a continued willingness on election day to support local government spending measures and open their wallets. to do it.
John Horvick, a Portland pollster who tracks the success and failure of such measures in every election, said Oregonians typically approve about 60 percent of spending measures on their ballots. This time they approved 37 of the 56 spending measures that local authorities asked them, or two thirds.
“For me it’s remarkable,” Horvick said. “Americans are frustrated with the government, the economy is hard to understand, but voters say it’s in bad shape.”
With the lingering effects of the pandemic and a highly contested electoral landscape, he suspected voters might be reluctant to tax themselves to fund more government ahead of the election. But “when it’s local, when it’s clear what it’s for and local leaders ask them to vote in favor, then in general people are willing to say yes,” she said. “People are willing to invest in their community.”
On average, the approval rate for taxes that voters approved was 56%, according to Horvick’s analysis.
This is not always the case, of course. In Josephine County, where the loss of federal lumber payments has resulted in drastic cuts to public services over the past decade, the Board of Commissioners sent voters a 3% seasonal sales tax on Tuesday to fund government forces. order. Only 18% of voters in rural, conservative county said yes, the worst performance of any local funding measure in Oregon.
Likewise, 74% of affected voters in Lane County said no to a bond to replace a firehouse; Seventy-one percent of the affected voters in Clackamas County rejected the Johnson City Library District’s annexation to the county; 63% of affected voters in Lincoln County turned down a five-year tax to fund a water district, and 61% of West Linn voters turned down a $ 17.5 million bond issue to fund the replacement of the water district. water line required due to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Interstate 205 improvement project.
All voting percentages refer to the percentage of eligible voters. In some cases, only a small fraction of residents in a given jurisdiction can vote on a measure.
OREGON ELECTIONS 2022: Live Results Page | Election page
Meanwhile, Redmond voters narrowly approved a $ 50 million construction bond for a new recreation center from 51% to 49%, but 60% of voters said “no” to a five-year tax levy. to finance the facility when it opens.
In general, however, voters across the state said yes to schools, parks, firefighters and equipment, water projects, bicycle infrastructure, and higher cannabis taxes.
Julie Parrish, a former Republican lawmaker from West Linn, now works for state representative Cedric Hayden, who was elected to the state Senate last week. She said she was not surprised by West Linn voters’ refusal of obligations to replace water lines, given their frustration with the improvement of roads and ODOT’s toll plan.
He said Oregonians are very skeptical of large state-level tax hikes, but are generally willing to support local tax measures if they feel they’re getting good value. However, she was surprised by the high levels of support for various fiscal measures, given the state of the economy and the personal struggles of voters. “There’s a weird disconnect as a loaf costs five dollars.”
Overall, the schools were a big winner on Tuesday. Voters in the state’s districts have approved debt issuance of more than $ 1 billion to fund schools. Seven of the 10 education funding measures have been approved. They included:
– $ 450 million in bonds for Portland Community College to build vocational training spaces, upgrade classroom technology and equipment, and facilitate distance learning. The measure was approved with 61% support.
– $ 250 million in Bend-La Pine School Bonds to cover the cost of 87 district-wide projects, including the renovation of Bend High School. The measure was approved with 59% support.
– $ 140 million in bonds for the David Douglas School District to repair buildings, secure entrances and construct a new specialized vocational center for technical and science education at David Douglas High School. The measure was approved with 60% support.
– $ 122 million in bonds for Forest Grove schools to repair buildings, improve school safety and expand preschool. The measure passed with 54% support.
– $ 45 million in bonds to renovate and expand school capacity in rapidly growing Umatilla County. The measure was approved with 53% support.
Not all school measures were approved. Voters in East Portland’s Parkrose School District turned down a five-year tuition fee that would have brought in $ 2 million a year. According to the minutes of the school board meetings, the district faces a budget shortfall of $ 3.2 million for the 2023-24 school year and could lose 12% of its staff in the coming years.
The tax was intended to maintain 22 positions: about 13 teachers and nine educational assistants in its six schools, which serve more than 2,800 students. The district is one of Oregon’s most diverse, serving 70 percent of black students and 72 percent of low-income people, according to Elizabeth Durant, chair of the Parkrose School Board. In 2011, a bond to rebuild Parkrose Middle School passed with just six votes.
A survey of 400 likely voters conducted in June by an outside research firm indicated that the intensity of support for the latest measure was “muted” and Durant said he heard something of the same from voters during propaganda in support of the withdrawal. There was no organized opposition, but the measure failed from 54% to 46%.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking,” Durant said, as the district will face layoffs this spring if it can’t get the legislature to refill the funds when it meets again in January. “I understand, but I am deeply disappointed. I hope the voters will reconsider. “
Similarly, 57% of voters in Jackson County rejected issuing a $ 4 million bond to finance the modernization of school infrastructure in the Rogue River District, funds that would have been doubled by a matching grant. of 4 million dollars from the state.
“We have made great efforts to present a community bonding measure that reflects what the community has told us they want in our district,” Rogue River School District Superintendent Patrick Lee told the Medford Mail Tribune.
Meanwhile, 52% of voters in Yamhill and Polk counties said no to $ 16 million in bonds to renovate two schools in the Sheridan School District, which was also in line for a $ 4 million grant from the state. The price may have been a factor, as the bonds would have cost homeowners $ 2.66 for $ 1,000 in appraised value, or $ 532 a year for a homeowner valued at $ 200,000.
-Ted Sickinger; email@example.com; 503-221-8505; @tedsickinger
Our journalism needs your support. Become a subscriber today at OregonLive.com/subscribe