The Oregonian newspaper wrote the following story today, giving more insight about how both measures for first time convicted drug and property offenders will force cuts in state services or large tax increases.
An initiative on the November ballot to lock up first-time drug and property crime offenders would cost taxpayers $1.3 billion to $2.2 billion over the next decade, according to projections released by state officials.
A competing anti-crime measure sponsored by legislators would cost about $1.1 billion over the same period.
Neither crime measure includes a tax increase to pay for housing additional inmates, and it would be up to the Legislature to raise taxes or cut other programs to foot the bill.
Kevin Mannix, a Republican who waged two unsuccessful campaigns for governor, is pushing Measure 61, the harsher of the two ballot measures. He called the state’s numbers “a fantasy” that overestimates how many people will end up behind bars.
Still, he predicted that Oregon voters would not be put off by the steep price tag.
“The ordinary voter is going to say, ‘OK, do I want someone breaking into my car or stealing my car or stealing my identity? No, I don’t, and I want government to put these predators behind bars and pull them off the streets,’ ” he said.
Mannix’s proposal would set three-year mandatory minimum prison sentences for first-time drug dealers, burglars and identity thieves, increasing Oregon’s prison population by an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 inmates.
The state analysis shows Oregon would need to spend $8 million to $10 million on it in the first year, ramping up to as much as $274 million a year by the fifth year. The measure also would require the state to borrow $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion to build new prisons.
Measure 57, which legislators put on the ballot as an alternative to Mannix’s proposal, is cheaper at $1.1 billion but still requires the state to spend more than $143 million a year when fully operational.
Under the lawmakers’ proposal, repeat offenders would bear the sentencing brunt and more money would go toward drug treatment. But the measure would require $314 million for new prison space for an estimated 1,600 offenders.