Oregon Ballot Measure 48, State Government Spending Limits (2006)

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Oregon Ballot Measure 48 was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in Oregon as an initiated constitutional amendment. It was defeated.

If Measure 48 had been approved, it would have limited the amount of money that the state of Oregon could spend by limiting future increases in state government spending based on a formula of inflation plus population growth. It was a variant of the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) that passed in Colorado in 1992.

Measure 48 would have inserted into the state's constitution a provision that would take the current year's budget and control, from that point forward, increases in spending by the government. It would not have decreased the amount of money budgeted, but would have limited the amount by which state government spending could have been increased the following year, and every year thereafter, according to a formula that takes into account the increase in population and the inflation rate.

Supporters of the measure were outspent by about $2 million. Supporters spent $1.3 million, including on the petition drive to put the measure on the ballot, and opponents of the measure spent $3.3 million to defeat it.

Election results

Measure 48
Defeatedd No923,62970.86%
Yes 379,971 29.14%
Election results from Oregon Blue Book website, accessed December 13, 2013

Text of Measure

Ballot title

The official ballot title for Measure 48 was:

Amends Constitution: Limits Biennial Percentage Increase in State Spending to Percentage Increase in State Population, Plus Inflation[1][2]


The official ballot summary was:

Amends constitution. Oregon statute currently limits state appropriations to 8% of projected personal income in Oregon (with certain exceptions). If Governor declares emergency, legislature may exceed current statutory appropriations limit by 60% vote of each house. Measure adds constitutional provision limiting increase in state spending from one biennium to next biennium to percentage increase in state population, plus inflation, over previous two years. Certain exceptions to limit, including spending of: federal, donated funds; proceeds from selling certain bonds, real property; money to fund emergency funds; money to fund tax, "kicker," other refunds. Measure provides that spending limit may be exceeded by amount approved by two-thirds of each house of legislature and approved by majority of voters voting in general election. Other provisions.[3][2]

Financial impact

The official estimated financial impact statement was:

The measure puts a new limit on state budget spending for each two-year budget.

It is unclear when the measure would first apply. If it first applies to the 2007-2009 budget, the measure would reduce money available to fund state services by $2.2 billion. If it first applies to the current budget, state spending must be reduced by $2.5 billion by July 2007, and expected spending must be reduced by $4.9 billion for 2007-2009.

The state budget now pays for public schools, health care, prisons, roads, bridges, forest fire protection and other services. In addition, the state transfers approximately 2/3 of its funds to cities, counties, school districts, and health care providers. The measure does not specify which programs would be affected by the spending limit.

The measure will limit state bond programs and will have a negative impact on the state's credit rating.

The measure does not directly limit local government spending.[3][2]

Full text

The full text of the constitutional amendment proposed by Measure 48 was:

The Constitution of the State of Oregon is amended by creating a new section to read:

(1) The purpose of this section is to limit the rate of growth of total spending by the state government. Notwithstanding any other limitation on state spending, except as provided in subsection (3), any increase in total spending by the state from one biennium to the next shall be no greater than the percentage increase in state population, if any, plus inflation, if any, over the two calendar years immediately preceding the start of the biennium.

(2) For purposes of this section:

(a) "Total spending" means all disbursements pursuant to all acts by the Legislative Assembly authorizing the expenditure of public funds, except disbursements of: 1) money to fund emergency or "rainy day" funds; 2) federal funds; 3) money pursuant to Article IX, section 14 of this Constitution, commonly referred to as "The Kicker;" 4) money to fund tax and other refunds; 5) money voluntarily donated to a state agency; 6) proceeds from the sale of bonds specifically approved by voters; and 7) proceeds from the sale of real property at real market value to non-governmental entities.

(b) "Inflation" means the percentage change in the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index for Portland - Salem, all items, all urban consumers, or its successor index.

(c) "Population" means the annual federal census estimates of the state population, adjusted every decade to match the federal census.

(3) The limit on total spending established by this section for each biennium may be exceeded for that biennium by an amount approved by two-thirds of each house of the Legislative Assembly and referred to and approved by a majority of electors voting on the issue in a general election.[4][2]



Ballot Measure 48 was referred to as the Rainy Day Amendment by supporters such as the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, the Oregon Republican Party and Americans for Limited Government.[5]. Various libertarian and conservative organizations supported the measure, and claimed that it would help put Oregon politicians on a budget, similar to that which Oregon families have in their own homes. In order to be placed on the ballot, Measure 48 supporters collected over 109,000 signatures of Oregon voters, which were validated in the summer prior to the election.[6]

Individual supporters included Don McIntire and Paul Farago.


$1,342,379 was donated to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Ballot Measure 48.

Donors of $25,000 and over were:

Donor Amount
Americans for Limited Government $632,672
Club for Growth $300,000
National Taxpayers Union $107,684
Taxpayers Association of Oregon $94,023
Restore Oregon's Term Limits $48,780
John D. Bryan $25,500



Unions, the Oregon Democratic Party, taxpayer-funded lobbying organizations such as the Oregon School Boards Association and chambers of commerce opposed the measure, claiming that it would take funding away from various state-run programs. Opponents cited studies that claimed that state revenue would fall in terms of billions of dollars.[7]

The Oregon Education Association was the largest donor to efforts to defeat the measure, donating approximately $723,000 to the opposition campaign.[8]


$4,285,495 was donated to the campaign in favor of a "no" vote on Ballot Measure 48.

Donors of $50,000 and over were:

Donor Amount
Oregon Education Association $814,031
AARP $399,712
Oregon City Federation of Teachers $277,480
SEIU Local 503 $250,000
AARP Oregon $230,402
AFSCME Council 75 $204,513
Oregon School Employees Association $201,000
SEIU $158,902
Oregon Public Employees Local 503 $107,730
Oregon AFL-CIO $92,202
Our Oregon $77,203
AFL-CIO $50,000
Oregon Nurses United $50,000
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde $50,000
Nike $50,000

Press reactions

Editorial boards throughout the state wrote unfavorably about Measure 48, citing examples from the TABOR in Colorado. For example, an editorial in the Oregonian wrote that Measure 48 "would steadily weaken Oregon and its public services."[9]

See also

External links

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