Remove Some State Control of Local Bonds

Vote Yes on Measure 102

It’s a bit wonky, but simply put Measure 102 would allow public-private partnerships to use voter-approved bonds to build affordable housing. Currently, Oregon’s Constitution prohibits this.

Affordable housing, however one defines it, is clearly a critical problem in our region. It directly affects most Oregon families. Measure 102 is one of various ongoing attempts by state and local governments to address housing affordability. Like other issues, government helped to create the problem, and some state and local fixes make the problem worse. Many factors have contributed to the rising cost of housing, including government regulations. We could make housing more affordable by loosening zoning regulations, expanding the urban growth boundaries, and by lowering permitting costs and other exorbitant fees associated with new construction.

Measure 102 is one small step put forth by the Legislature to help lower prices. It was placed on the ballot with strong bipartisan support, including many conservatives. It removes the current State restriction on using property tax backed bond measures to finance public-private partnerships to increase affordable housing. It does not create these projects, it simply gives municipalities the freedom to enter into them, if the local voters subsequently approve these sorts of individual bond measures. Bonds are usually paid off by property taxes.

There are a couple of concerns we have about Measure 102. First, one may question the wisdom of voting to make your property collateral for projects that private developers will significantly profit from. But Measure 102 simply gives that option to local voters by removing the current state restriction on such bond measures.

Second, this Measure will be used to boost public-private partnerships. Some national figures such as David Bahnsen have warned that public-private partnerships are an “invitation to the worst forms of cronyism”. Such partnerships are becoming increasingly popular. It is likely some private parties have encouraged this ballot measure, and are eager for 102 to pass so they can make money in concert with government.

But this Measure moves in the direction of more local control, actually lessening state control, and giving local voters more freedom, even if they use that liberty foolishly. We therefore recommend a Yes vote for Measure 102.

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This week we are addressing Oregon’s five ballot measures. We hope to generate some discussion of these as we prepare our 2018 Biblical Ballot Measure Voters Guide. We will be mailing the guides in early October. We’d like to hear from you before we finalize our commentary. Please request a copy of the guide by clicking the Subscribe button, and to volunteer to help us get them distributed, particularly to churches. You might also want to use your political action tax credit to divert some tax dollars you would send to the State of Oregon to instead help fund this project. Just click the Donate button.

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