Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Friday, November 03, 2006

How I'm voting -- as if you care

It seems to be the thing to do in the blogosphere -- explain how you plan to vote. I think this is highly overrated, but just in case my mom was interested, here it is:

Governor: Ron Saxton.
I explained why in this post.

U.S. House of Representatives, District 1: Undecided
I will probably hold my nose and vote for Derrick Kitts, because I'd love to retain Republican control of the House (not that such a vote will achieve that), but I may not vote at all. From an agenda standpoint, Kitts is certainly better than David Wu, but I have difficulty getting past Kitts' fratboy image, which he's done very little to dispel during his two terms in the Oregon House. I have a real problem with Wu's refusal to discuss the issues with Kitts, but that's just one of many issues I have with Wu. In the end, it won't matter, as Wu will win this race in a cakewalk.

Oregon Senate, District 17: No vote
My current representative, Brad Avakian, will roll over Piotr Kuklinski and two third-party candidates for Charlie Ringo's senate seat. I like Avakian, not because he and I have a lick of issues in common, but because he's respectful of my opinion; that said, his personality doesn't make up for the fact that he's a liberal Democrat, and I would vote for a decent Republican. (Kuklinski might be a decent Republican, but getting any information about him is, um, a challenge; he won the May primary because he was unopposed in securing 639 write-in votes at the last minute.) Even if the Republicans could find a decent, well-publicized candidate, he or she would have a difficult time winning the district, which has a 9-point Democrat advantage.

Oregon House, District 34: Joan Draper
I met Joan at the Washington County Fair this summer and can't say that I came away bowled over by her knowledge of the issues. I like it when I think my representatives are listening to their constituents, but she seemed too willing to listen and not all that willing to give her opinion. That said, I really think she's a smart lady, and knows more than she discussed. She's clearly a better choice than her opponent, Suzanne Bonamici, which I explained here. Her business background is particularly important (especially her record of turning around failing businesses), as opposed to her opponent's background as an attorney (ugh). A Draper victory will be a challenge with the Dems' 4+ point advantage in the district, but it's do-able.

Oregon Supreme Court: Jack Roberts
As I said here, I agree with Willamette Week: the Supreme Court already has plenty of justices with cookie-cutter résumés, but Roberts' intelligence and everyday understanding of our state put him head and shoulders above his opponent. As WW said, "The court is stocked with justices who have backgrounds similar to [Virginia] Linder's; it has nobody remotely like Roberts." For more on Roberts, read here and here.

Washington County Circuit Court Judge: Charlie Bailey
This is a no-brainer, as I explained here. The judicial branch has enough trouble remembering its britches are no bigger than yours and mine, and Bailey's opponent Vincent Deguc gives me no indication he'll be a departure from that.

Metro: Tom Cox
This is for many of the same reasons as my vote for Roberts. Metro is full of left-field "visionaries" (read: pursuing utopian ideas without regard for the people who pay for them) like David Bragdon, Rex Burkholder and Robert Liberty. The last thing it needs is more of the same. As Jack Bogdanski said of this race, Cox's opponent Kathryn Harrington "has all the money, from the developers, the unions, etc." In other words, all the typical players who usually throw their money around in the hopes of buying elections. Yet another reason to vote for Cox.

Measure 39, Property Condemnation: Yes
I have a good friend who works in the property development world, and he told me there really are good reasons why this should not pass -- particularly in situations where the overall good of the community (e.g. job creation) might be hindered by a property owner who was holding out for more money than his property was worth, or who just wanted to be ornery. My friend noted that the public sometimes forgets that the owners of condemned properties are paid a fair price for their property. That said, he thinks M39 will win handily, and I think he's right. There are probably areas where it makes sense, but I can't stomach the vision of Ma & Pa getting kicked off their property with a check and a swift kick to the butt, just so a wealthy developer can become wealthier.

Measure 40, Judicial Districts: Yes
As I said above, the judicial branch is getting a bit big for its britches, and part of the reason for that is that the vast majority of judges are selected from the Willamette Valley. Thus, they apply the law with little understanding or concern for how it would affect a farmer in Boardman or a rancher in LaPine or a blue-collar family in Coquille. The opposition argument -- that this would bring special interests into judicial elections -- is laughable; it really means, We don't like this because we would have competition for our liberal monopoly on the judiciary. The other argument is that we couldn't attract the most qualified judges to the bench, but again, that depends on your definition of "qualified." They define it narrowly as experience in the attorney general's office or a lower court; the rest of us use a broader definition that includes life experience and familiarity with how the law affects the common man.

Measure 41, Income Tax Deductions: No
This is a close call that may come as a surprise to my conservative brethren, but I've decided that I'm not ready to take more money out of the state treasury until I see what Gov. Saxton would do with the budget. (Obviously, if Ted Kulongoski is re-elected, I will probably regret this vote, and recent polls do not give me hope.) That said, I'm tempted to vote for it because of two reasons: 1) Oregon law (if I remember correctly) allowed this deduction until the legislature decided to negate the federal tax cuts in 2003 by eliminating the deduction. Thus it was, in effect, a tax increase on Oregonians, and the state economy lagged the federal recovery by about a year because of it; 2) I grow tired of hearing how the sky is going to fall when the next tax decrease takes effect, and the sky is still there the day after. Still, I want to wait and see what happens, particularly when combined with Measure 48.

Measure 42, Credit Scores for Insurance: Yes
I've heard the arguments that this will cause my insurance rates to increase, but I'm not sure I buy it. Those arguments are coming from insurance agents. This makes me think the insurance companies are charging significantly more to those with poor credit, and they're worried about a loss of income because they know they can't increase everyone else's rates enough to cover the difference. Do I have any proof of any of this? Nope. I'm just saying, when my insurance agent tells me my rates might go up because of a ballot measure, I treat it with the same suspicion I would if the Oregon Education Association told me class sizes would double as a result of Measure X. Neither party is an uninterested observer.

Measure 43, Parental Notice of a Minor's Abortion: Yes
Another no-brainer. Lots of misinformation on this, as I wrote here. Let's put it this way: if this ballot measure said that minor girls should get their parents' permission before consenting to medical care, and provided an exception for medical emergencies and abortions, it would probably pass with 75 percent of the vote. Very few people would have the guts to argue that a 15-year-old girl was competent to approve gall bladder surgery without her parents' involvement. But because this is dealing with the left's sacred cow -- unlimited abortions for anyone, any time -- it's "not simple, and not safe." Baloney.

Measure 44, Prescription Drug Coverage: Yes
Does anyone really plan to vote against this? No financial impact, no organized opposition, just the occasional crank who doesn't want government to fund anything. Get real. I agree with the Oregonian on this: the only reason to vote against this is if "you're a cruel, cold-hearted misanthrope."

Measure 45, Term Limits: No
I understand (and even accept, to a point) the argument that politicians in office are like diapers -- they need to be changed on a regular basis because they get too smelly. But I also buy the argument that says politicians need some time to get their footing and learn the process to really be effective. I recognize that the power of incumbency provides a built-in obstacle to voting fresh blood into office, but that's really the voters' fault, not that of the politicians. We already have term limits -- we're going to have another one on Tuesday -- and I don't like the idea of forcing a legislator I admire into early retirement simply because he's been a three-term representative or a two-term senator.

Measures 46 and 47, Campaign Finance: No
Truth be told, I haven't taken the time to thoroughly research these measures. But when I see that Planned Parenthood and Oregon Right to Life are both opposed, that raises a red flag. Other red flags: the legislature can make any change to campaign finance law with a three-fourths vote; an individual can only contribute $50 per year to a "small donor committee" (even my family gives more than that, and we're not big givers); and "an entity" could not independently support or oppose a candidate or party (what exactly is an "entity," and how can you constitutionally eliminate that involvement?).

Measure 48, State Spending Limit: Yes
When I first got my voter's pamphlet, I read that the measure "would reduce money available to fund state services by an estimated $2.2 billion," but that it "does not directly reduce state revenue" -- and that's if the measure took effect in the next biennium. Well, besides the fact that it's confusing, it turns out that's not exactly the most accurate answer. In truth, Measure 48 would allow more than an 8 percent increase over the current budget, which amounts to a $2.6 billion increase in the all-funds budget, and nearly a billion-dollar increase in the general fund budget. While I said I was voting against Measure 41 because it takes money out of the budget, I'm voting for M48 because it allows growth without letting the legislature go hog-wild in good economic times. And those who try to link M48 to Colorado's TABOR are either not being honest, or they're misinformed. Unlike TABOR, the Rainy Day Amendment allows for the creation of a rainy-day fund, and the size is set by the legislature, so any funds beyond that fund limit could be refunded to taxpayers; during an economic downturn, the RDA allows for additional spending beyond the cap with voter approval.

Washington County Measures 34-126, 34-127 and 34-133 -- Library Services, Law Enforcement and Fire Service: Yes
All causes I'm willing to spend my tax dollars to support.

Metro Measure 26-80, Preserving Open Spaces: No
They want me to approve $227 million for open spaces I'll likely never see? Bwah hah hah hah! That's funny!

Beaverton School District Measure 34-139, School Construction: No
This is not an easy choice, as I recognize the need, and I only made my decision in the last couple of days. However, as I noted in this post, a couple of years ago the Beaverton School Board found it didn't need the second and third years of money from a three-year local option levy, but only declined the last year of income. Certainly, that's better than taking all three years, but it still sticks in my craw. When the district shows me it can treat the taxpayers with respect, perhaps I'll be more inclined to respect their requests for my money.

4 Comments:

  • At 11/03/2006 9:27 PM, Blogger Jim in KFalls said…

    The only point I picked up on with regards to measure 44 is prescription drugs will be available to oregon residents - which has a different meaning than oregon citizens.

    My fear is anyone residing in Oregon, legally or not, will be entitled to prescription drugs on the tax payer dime.

     
  • At 11/04/2006 8:22 AM, Blogger Ken said…

    Good catch, Jim. I didn't notice that...

     
  • At 11/06/2006 6:17 PM, Anonymous Laughing Vergil said…

    I have to disagree with your call on Measure 48 for two reasons - one of mathematics, and one of spin.

    Mathematically, this amendment is just wrong. Let's consider what it says. According to the amendment, "any increase in total spending by the state from one biennium to the next shall be no greater than the percentage increase in state population, if any, plus inflation, if any, over the two calendar years immediately preceding the start of the biennium." (Emphasis mine)

    What this ends up doing is slowly cutting the per-capita spending, not keeping it level. I can demonstrate it with a simplified example.

    The state of Example has passed a measure identical to M.48. In the biennium that the measure takes effect, Example has a population of 1,000, and a budget of $100,000. This makes per-capita spending $100 per person.

    After two years, there has been 5% net inflation, and a 5% increase in population (to 1,050). Since there was 5% inflation, we can now expect that to supply the same services, we would need to budget $105 per capita. Let's see what we end up with.

    The formula mandated by M.48 is (Budget x (1 + Inflation + pop. increase)). This works out to 100,000 x (1 + .05 + .05), or a $110,000 budget. And 110,000 divided by the population of 1,050 results in a per-capita expenditure of $104.76, not the $105 we would need to keep up with inflation.

    To keep the costs the same, the formula would have to be based on the per-capita expenditures, so that the budget would be (per-capita x (1 + inflation)) * (Total population), or $105 * 1,050 = $110,250.

    As you can see, the amendment does not do what its backers imply (keep state spending the same on a per-capita basis), but instead will reduce the spending by an amount equal to (population growth %) x (inflation %) x (last period's budget) each biennium. If Example had experienced 12% inflation and 10% population growth, the reduction would be 1.2% of the last biennial budget.

    Second - Spin: Although the amendment allows the funding of a rainy-day fund, we still need to get the appropriate laws passed to put one in place. Calling this the "Rainy Day Amendment" is misleading at best, and downright deceptive at worst. Such an amendment could have been worded to force the *saving* of all monies above the per-capita limit in a rainy-day fund, but this is not what the amendment's backers wanted. I suspect (but cannot prove) that it is, in fact, not what they want at all, and expect that if a rainy-day fund is put together, the backers will come back with some proposition to cap the fund instead, requiring all amounts over their hard cap (set in $$, not adjustable by inflation) to be refunded through the kicker or some similar mechanism.

    Finally, the seventh non-limited expenditure for the state is from "proceeds from the sale of real property at real market value to non-governmental entities." My take on this: Eventually, the state sells off assets such as state parks to fund education. (Feel free to point and laugh. Nonetheless, that's how the math works out eventually).

    Measure 48? Bad math. Bad idea. Vote No.

     
  • At 11/06/2006 10:09 PM, Blogger Ron said…

    I can think of at least two reasons to vote against measure 44.

    1. I find it impossible to believe government will be able to negotiate lower prices even if every citizen of the world was in the pool. It may work for a while but just watch; the bureaucracy will destroy any good efforts made by well meaning people.

    After that happens it will be too late. No one will vote to take away the coverage.

    If that isn’t bad enough we all know government programs like these tend to take on a life of their own. The program will expand to include an ever increasing % of the population as politicians make promises to include others in their newly found power of deciding who gets a handout.

    2. The main problem with the measure is it will take away some incentives for business to offer coverage. Why would any business offer a coverage that their employees already have? The result – more people will need this program. The best argument in favor of this measure is it will help people and cost us nothing. It can not cost nothing if you have a government agency running a program that is adding more people to the program. The bureaucracy will increase – that’s the nature of government. There will be more people in the program and more opportunities for fraud. There will also be more waste. People don’t value what they don’t pay for.

     

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