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School Bond Measures

I’m seeing a lot of unusual thinking in letters to the Oregonian regarding the Portland Public School bond measure.

Many writers say they are voting no because the assessment is unfair. I just don’t see that. A property tax is borne by every residence in the district, proportional to the value of the home they occupy. Landlords pass the assessment down to renters, so the burden is distributed among all people who live in the district. One writer complained that his property taxes would go up by $1,000. That would mean he is living in a home assessed at $500,000. He is doing OK — he can afford to pay a bit more.

In any case, the voters of Oregon decided this was the scheme they wanted when they passed Measure 5 and dismantled the previous system. There is nothing that any school system can do about this. There is no alternative. They can’t raise money in any other way. If you are philosophically opposed to public education, then just say that, and vote as you see fit. But punishing the school district just because you happen to dislike property taxes is not a rational response to the situation.

One writer said he was voting no until the district got their priorities straight. The reason building maintenance has been deferred is because they DO have their priorities straight — their priority is educating the children of Portland.

There’s no point in talking about cutting fat. After Measure 5, we cut the fat in 1994, and in 1997, and 2000, and 2002, and 2005, etc. We’ve been cutting muscle for some time, and we’re about to start chopping away at bone. The word “crisis” has been overused into meaninglessness, but that word is completely applicable here.

The school districts are not the enemy. They are trying to do what the people have chartered them to do. They can’t do that without funding.

Posted in Opinion.

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