The Oregon Department of Justice on Monday handed K-12 funding advocates a big loss, ruling that initiative petition 26, a measure aimed at the 2018 ballot, "does not comply with procedural requirements established in the Oregon Constitution."
The measure would have made it easier for courts to order the Legislature to increase school funding and would also have reduced the threshold for raising new taxes to a simple majority of lawmakers. (Currently, new taxes require a three-fifths vote of both legislative chambers.)
Oregon's constitution requires that ballot measures address only one question or issue but the DOJ's analysis found the two substantive amendments IP 26 includes—requiring schools be funded to a legal standard of adequancy; and, changing the threshold for raising taxes—are two separate issues and not, as the consitution requires "closely related."
The DOJ ruling is the second blow to the Oregon Education Association in the past week. On Aug. 4, the union withdrew another proposed measure, IP 27, due to a drafting error.
OEA President C. John Larson slammed DOJ's decision and vowed to find other ways to put school funding on the 2018 ballot.
"We strongly disagree with the Attorney General's ruling on Initiative Petition 26," Larson said in a statement. "Clearly, the need to sufficiently fund public education and the mechanism for doing so are inextricably linked, and so they should be considered together by voters."