Publication Date


Document Type



Published in the City Club of Portland Bulletin, Vol. 97, No. 4, August 13, 2014

Majority Summary

Ballot Measure 86 amends the Oregon Constitution, creates an endowment that would generate financial assistance for Oregonians pursuing post-secondary education and career training, and authorizes the Legislature to issue general obligation bonds to fund the endowment. Decisions on whether, when, and in what amount the bonds would be issued to fund the endowment would be made by the Legislature at a later date.

A majority of the study committee concluded that earnings from a public endowment present a potential funding source that exceeds what direct allocation by the Legislature each year could achieve. Using proceeds from issuing general obligation bonds to initially fund this endowment provides a politically viable mechanism to accomplish something the Legislature has been unable or unwilling to prioritize up to this point, without a sacrifice to current spending. Using debt is more expensive than annual appropriations and has tradeoffs, but the majority concluded that funding a long-term asset with future earnings potential justifies the expense.

The majority recommends a “YES” vote on Measure 86.

Minority Summary

A minority of the study committee concluded that this proposal is a form of financial market arbitrage and that potential risks and costs outweigh potentially small returns. Current constitutional prohibitions are a safeguard to protect the state’s financial assets. Supporting the goal of higher education affordability does not demand support for this measure.

The minority recommends a “NO” vote on Measure 86.

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