Street Roots weighs in on relevant local and state measures before voters this year. All conclusions were reached by Street Roots staff, volunteers and vendors, with consideration on how the laws will affect people experiencing poverty.
Multnomah County Libraries: 26-143: Create a Multnomah County Library District with permanent rate to fund library services.
This measure seeks to create a taxing district specifically to fund the Multnomah County library system. If approved, the district levy would be a rate of $1.22 per $1,000 of assessed value. Currently the libraries are funded through renewable levies.
Yes! Libraries are one of the last resources for public knowledge, research and cultural enrichment that are universally accessible to the public, regardless of income, stature or resources. But such an asset does not come without the community’s investment.
This measure will also replace the patchwork levy process that exists now. It will dedicate funding for this valuable resource, freeing up other dollars for social services for families experiencing homelessness and poverty.
Portland Public Schools: 26-144: Portland Public School District Bonds to Improve Schools – Portland School District
This measure seeks to issue a bond in the amount of $482 million in order to help pay for three new high schools in the district as well as general improvement and renovation projects as needed. If approved, a levy addition of $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value would be implemented in the district to pay for the bond.
Yes! Our schools need our help, but let’s face it, the improvement proposal floated in the spring was too much and too haphazard to galvanize real support from the community at large. This proposal brings it more down to size, with public involvement and a more equal distribution of assistance for long-neglected facilities. Education is so critical for the wellbeing of future Portlanders, and we hold a responsibility to getting all students on an level course toward success.
The arts: 26-146: Restore School Arts, Music Education; Fund Arts through Limited Tax: City of Portland
This measure seeks to implement a tax set at a rate of $35 per person living in the city. The tax would apply to any resident over the age of 18 who earns money and is above the federal poverty line.
Yes! Art is everywhere in Portland. It’s at the core of our city’s personality. But in our core institutions, particularly for children and the poor, art is either nonexistent or out of financial and social reach. The benefits of arts training — on math skills, cognitive processing and simply our joie de vie — are well documented. For $35 per person, we can fund not only public school programs but also programs generating community involvement among people who are social and economically marginalized.
There are caveats, to be sure, and the administration of this new tax has to ensure that it does not become a burden to the very people it is intended to help.
Fire, police retirement: 26-145: Amends Charter: Changes provisions of the city’s fire police disability retirement system
If approved, this measure would amend the Portland City Charter, changing the Fire and Police Disability Retirement System. These changes would include clarifying the calculation of benefits, no longer including service by another employer for calculation of service credit, defining service requirements for disability, altering benefits for part-time employees and changing the vesting period for non-service related death benefits from 10 years to 5 years. The estimated total savings from all the changes is approximately $46.6 million over 25 years.
Yes! The last line says a lot. The majority of the savings come in curbing the manipulation of final-year income measures, meaning — like the rest of us — benefits are based on the actual final year of pay. And it shifts payments for injuries incurred during probationary periods to the Oregon workers compensation program. We want our firefighters and police taken care of in the event of a disability, and this measure lets us continue to do the right thing without expensive loopholes.
Street Roots also endorsed statewide measures.