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Don't be fooled by ad campaign

Measure 48 will hurt, not help, and it won't protect the kicker

Television ads will begin appearing this week from the "Rainy Day Amendment Committee," urging you to vote for Ballot Measure 48. Don't be fooled.

Measure 48, as we detailed in this space Oct. 1, would limit growth in state spending to the increase in Oregon's population plus inflation as defined by the Consumer Price Index. We are convinced the measure would be a disaster for Oregon, as it was in Colorado, where voters are now frantically undoing what they did in 1992.

Backers don't want you to think about slashing state support for schools, higher education, police protection and social services, so they dress up their arguments in innocuous language. They call 48 the "Rainy Day Amendment," as though it would merely encourage lawmakers to drop a few pennies in the piggy bank.

The first of the new ads doesn't even deal directly with state spending. It takes shots at the legislators who accepted a junket to Maui courtesy of the beer and wine industry and didn't report the trip to state ethics officials as required by law.

Not that we have any sympathy for those lawmakers, but the lobbyists paying for that trip were more likely interested in avoiding state taxes and regulations than in encouraging their guests to overspend the state budget. Measure 48 would do nothing about lobbyists wining and dining legislators or about making sure lawmakers report free trips. The second of the Measure 48 ads is more insidious. Titled "Brighter Days," it says the measure "makes the politicians save for tough times without more taxes. It protects our kicker rebate ... "

If Measure 48 passes, the "tough times" would start right away. The measure would immediately slash available revenue by $1.1 billion a year. If Measure 48 had been enacted in 1990, the Medford School District today would have $13.7 million less to work with &

8212; the equivalent of reducing the school year by 43 days or eliminating 174 teachers.

As for the kicker, Measure 48 would do absolutely nothing to protect it, because Oregon voters locked it into the state Constitution. If Measure 48 fails, as it should, Oregonians will still get their kicker checks &

8212; and their kids will still get a full school year.

"Rainy Day Amendment" sounds cozy and reassuring, but don't be deceived.

If we had to come up with a name for Measure 48, it would be "The Perfect Storm."