Oregon voters will decide the fate of higher education February 3 in the special election on ballot Measure 30, which could potentially enact several temporary and permanent taxes to spare education, healthcare, human services and public safety services vast additional funding cuts.
$14.3 million is on the line for higher ed, and if the measure fails, it is likely tuition will rise even more than it already has. The initial loss for Portland State would be $1.7 million, with additional cuts likely.
“It’s extremely important for students to vote on this measure,” ASPSU State Affairs Director Erin Devaney said, “because so much of it is education.”
Besides higher education, K-12 could lose $284.6 million, potentially leading to additional school day cuts, increased class size and more teacher layoffs.
The Our Oregon Coalition also claims that 85,000 people could lose their Oregon Health Plan coverage if the measure fails and healthcare services are cut by $187.6 million. A failure of the measure would also force $58.1 million cuts to prisons, parole systems, courts, juvenile corrections and state police.
Meanwhile, Stoporegontax.com claims that the state government is capable of balancing the budget with their current resources, and asks for “jobs, not more taxes: no on 30.”
The Oregon Student Association (OSA), along with student governments such as ASPSU, is attempting to educate university students on the measure and encourage them to vote on Feb. 3. OSA released a flier, “Your money. You decide,” which gives a basic outline of what a yes or no vote would do.
According to OSA, a yes vote would increase corporate minimum tax, maintain the state operating budget and current level of services, as well as establish a temporary, graduated income tax increase.
A no vote, OSA says, will force cuts to all state agencies, including $14.3 million of higher ed, and lead to additional cuts where necessary to balance the budget.
Devaney said student government is taking a nonpartisan view of the measure; rather, they are working to educate people about the measure as a whole, so that individuals can decide for themselves whether to vote yes or no.
“The most important thing is that young people vote,” Devaney said. Members of ASPSU are working hard on a “get out the vote” education campaign, as well as tabling, phone banking and visiting classes in order to educate people about the measure.
“Our whole goal,” Devaney said, “is to give them objective information and let them make the decision.” OSA is also planning to write letters to the editor of state and local community papers.
“When people know about [Measure 30], they know about it and they’ll just start ranting.” ASPSU wants people talking about the measure and spreading the word, thereby encouraging more voters.
ASPSU’s campaign to get out the vote is called “30 on 3,” basically, “Vote on Measure 30 on Feb. 3.”
Devaney said ASPSU’s and OSA’s focus is to make people aware of what they could possibly be voting on.
To help spread this awareness, ASPSU will be hosting a forum on Measure 30 at 2:30 p.m. January 28 in Smith Memorial Student Union room 294. Two opponents and two proponents of the measure will be speaking, including Gretchen Kafoury and Richard Burke. There will also be amble time for questions and discussion.
ASPSU will also have an unofficial ballot box in Parkway Commons North on Feb. 3, where students can drop off their ballots all day.