Setting the Record Straight: Tuesday’s Elections Actually Show Wide Support For Schools and Local Services
Since Tuesday’s election, there’s been a prevailing storyline in the press that local ballot measures lost big, and that the results were caused by economically pinched voters being unwilling to raise their own taxes.
A frontpage headline in yesterday’s Oregonian is a perfect example: “Economy big factor in school bonds’ fall: Around the state and even in tax-receptive Portland, voters decide they just can’t afford more taxes.”
But an analysis of the election numbers conducted by Our Oregon reveals wide support among voters for protecting schools and local services, like police and fire protection.
Of the 47 tax measures that were on local ballots, 19 were approved by voters, with one—the Parkrose Bond—still too close to call. The measures that passed were in every corner of the state. There were Yes victories on school measures from Portland to Newberg to Bandon, and public safety levies from Klamath to Scappoose.
But when we tallied the numbers for all the yes votes and all the no votes for all of the local measures, we found something even more telling—and perhaps more surprising.
There were 329,667 Yes votes in favor of higher taxes or extending taxes in order to fund schools, libraries, museums, and/or public safety needs like fire stations. On these same measures, there were 342,810 No votes. That's difference of 49% to 51%--really, a very close margin.
What does that mean? Even in this economy, there were almost as many votes in favor of taxes as there were opposed—and these were broad-based taxes, not progressive or targeted taxes.
These numbers fly in the face of the prevailing narrative about Tuesday’s election, and show that voters around the state are willing to step up to protect their local schools and critical services. If the measures had been targeted to impact only those who are still doing well in the economy, the numbers would have been even higher.