This post has been updated.
Yesterday, county election offices around Oregon were learning a similar story as they tallied up their local election results: Oregonians support funding for schools, fire departments, and other critical local services.
Oregonians from all over the state were weighing in on local tax measures this May election. Of the 37 local bond and levy tax measures that appeared on the May ballot, 27 measures (more than 70%) passed in yesterday’s election. These Yes victories came from all over the state, from Polk County to Deschutes County to Clatsop County and beyond.
Our Oregon has been tracking voter support for local measures across several cycles now, and we learned something even more telling this election. While Oregonians’ support for their local schools, libraries, parks, and other local services have continued to grow in recent years, this May 2013 election had one of the highest overall percentage of YES votes to provide support for local services.
When we tallied the numbers of all the YES votes and all the NO votes across the state on tax measures, we saw that there were 431,825 YES votes to support their local schools, parks, fire departments, or public safety – compared to 299,370 NO votes. This means that 59% of all votes were cast in favor of higher or extended taxes in order to support the schools and other local services in our local communities. (See our May 2013 Local Measures Tracker PDF.)
When voters around the state of Oregon were asked to support their local schools, fire departments, parks, and more, they overwhelmingly voted YES in yesterday’s election.
Voters have seen the everyday impacts of ongoing budget cuts to their schools and critical services. They’ve seen crucial jobs lost due to funding cuts. They’ve seen their kids and teachers struggle under embarrassingly overcrowded classrooms. They’ve seen what happens to emergency services when first responders are laid off.
They’ve responded by voting to increase funding for their local priorities. In Beaverton, voters passed Measure 34-204 a levy to fund their schools 57% to 43% because of the classroom overcrowding crisis. In La Pine, voters passed two fire district measures to ensure their fire district is prepared and staffed to respond to emergencies.
The message is clear: Oregonians are really, really ready to see improved funding for their schools and other local services. It’s great news that they’re willing to step up, but it’s also become increasingly necessary because the largest, most profitable corporations doing business in Oregon are paying less and less of their share, even as they continue to benefit from our schools and basic infrastructure. That leaves the rest of us holding the bag.
This post has been updated to include a few local measures that were inadvertently omitted. A special thanks to the League of Oregon Cities for alerting us to the error!