For the past few weeks, all of us have been bombarded with TV ads and letters about the good and the bad of Measure 50, the proposed tobacco tax on this November's ballot. Measure 50's promoters say it is about children's health care. I personally am in favor of all Oregonians having quality health care. When we look at both sides of the issue and all the available information, I have come to realize that Measure 50 is not the answer.
Only 30 percent of the proposed tobacco tax will be expended for "Health For Kids." The other 70 percent will go for contracts to corporations. Why do you think the big insurance companies are backing Measure 50? Yes, they will get the lion's share.
Another problem with Measure 50 is the tobacco tax is in the Oregon Constitution. It can't be fixed without another vote of the people. A tobacco tax does not belong in our constitution just as other products don't belong in the constitution.
Starting in 1999, Oregon has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the huge settlement from a national tobacco lawsuit. Why couldn't that money go to health care for kids?
Recent studies by economists have determined that the health care cost will exceed tobacco tax revenues by over $200 million in a few short years. With this huge deficit, the legislature will either cut the children off their health or ask us non-smoker to somehow pick up the tab.
Another reason for voting "no" on Measure 50 is that low-income families with a smoker would be affected the hardest. That would be counter productive.
All Oregonians need to have quality health care. The fact that money from Measure 50 won't go to the kids, the no-bid contracts, the wasted tobacco lawsuit money, the future funding deficit and the unprecedented constitutional amendment just is not a good way to fund health care of kids.
So, join me in voting "no" on Measure 50.