Governor Kulongoski Takes a Stand Against TABOR

Initiative will force deep cuts to schools and jeopardize Oregon’s economic recovery

For Immediate Release, May 25, 2006
Contact: 503-546-0416

(Portland) – Governor Ted Kulongoski warned Oregon voters of the devastating effects of the so-called “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights,” or TABOR, ballot initiative currently being circulated. He urged them to remember the story told by a Republican small business owner from Colorado, where TABOR inflicted harm on public education, health care, public safety, and other critical public services.

Governor Kulongoski said Oregon cannot take the risk of sliding backwards at this critical point in time. “Oregon stands at the gateway to change. We need to continue making smart investments in education, health care and our economy, but this measure would prevent us from doing that,” the Governor said.

In a meeting with the Governor at the Oregon PTA, Coloradoan Kristi Hargrove described the cuts to schools and the economic damage her state suffered after voters passed a TABOR ballot measure in 1992. Like the measure Colorado’s voters passed, the Oregon proposal would severely limit state spending, based on an arbitrary formula that ignores the real costs of vital public services for Oregonians.

“Colorado voters were sold a bill of goods,” the Governor told the gathering. “But what TABOR did was hurt their schools, their economy and their communities. I won’t let that happen to Oregon.”

The initiative would also prohibit the state from making critical investments during strong economic times, such as the recent special session where the Governor and legislature provided more than $40 million for schools across Oregon to reduce class size and restore programs for the 2006-07 school year. The Governor also warned that TABOR would challenge the state's ability to provide immediate emergency resources during a natural disaster.

Hargrove is a Republican and a PTA mom, as well as a small business owner. She says the problems with TABOR were in the fine print and were hidden from the voters.

“TABOR didn’t bring prosperity,” she told the Governor and the Oregon PTA. “It brought chaos to Colorado and I urge all Oregonians to learn from our experiences. Under TABOR, no matter how well a state’s economy is doing, the schools still suffer. It’s inflexible and rigid and doesn’t belong in any state’s constitution.”

Hargrove related how the Colorado TABOR forced massive cuts to education, and made it impossible to improve degraded roads and bridges. After more than a decade of infrastructure deterioration, Colorado voters across the political spectrum including labor, business and community leaders, formed a coalition to take back control of their state. Last November, Colorado voters passed a referendum to suspend TABOR for five years so the state could begin reinvesting in its schools, roads, and public services. Now businesses who had been wary of Colorado’s financial instability are moving back into the state, said Hargrove.

“When talking to current business owners who want to expand, or potential business owners looking to relocate, they all the same thing – we need good schools, good roads and stable government to provide good paying jobs,” the Governor said.

In Oregon, the drive for a TABOR constitutional amendment has entered the final phase of signature gathering.

“Three years ago, Oregon was mired in a deep recession, but with hard work and aggressive efforts to promote job creation and growth, we have turned our economy around,” the Governor said. “We are investing in education and expanding access to health care. We have put Oregon on the road to energy independence. More Oregonians have jobs than ever before. We are in the fast lane and headed in the right direction. TABOR would throw a roadblock up against our ability to fund our schools and continue our economic recovery.”


Posted on May 25, 2006