Remember how furious you were ten years ago when the federal government borrowed money from the banks to bail out the banks? As a result, generations of taxpayers are going to be on the hook for reckless and careless decisions implemented by policymakers.
We have a similar situation brewing here in Oregon and the Portland metropolitan area.
Housing costs have been skyrocketing for years, due to shortsighted policies that created and perpetuated the artificial scarcity of land on which to build houses. Now, the same people who were responsible for this government-caused catastrophe are asking you to pony up more money, for decades, to reward them for doing so.
Measure 26-199 is the perfect example of bungling bureaucrats looking for ways to get paid to make problems worse. But unlike the bank bailouts from ten years ago, you have the chance to vote against this taxpayer-funded scam.
The text of Measure 26-199 states that the nearly $1 billion tax, is payable from taxes on property or property ownership. This is being done in the name of “affordable housing,” even though common sense dictates that taxing anything is a terrible way of making it more affordable.
Hidden in the text is the admission that a portion of the funds raised through this tax on housing will go to cover administrative costs. Although the text tries to minimize the figure, the unescapable reality is that five percent of $652,800,000 is still $32,640,000. That’s $32 million of your money, going straight into the pockets of the same bureaucrats who decided three years ago that there was more than enough land for housing, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Bureaucrats who made bad decisions based on ideologically driven anti-growth policies stand to get pay raises, funded by you, in the name of solving a problem they caused in the first place.
Measure 26-199 creates what is essentially a nearly billion-dollar slush fund, to be spent by those very same bureaucrats. It writes a blank check that allows them to take more land off of the market. Its explanatory statement states explicitly that they would be able to use the property they purchase with your tax dollars for uses other than housing. They include “other commercial, office and retail uses.” These bureaucrats could even use that money for projects that “may include spaces for grocery.” How does that help solve our region’s housing crisis? The short answer is that it doesn’t, no matter how much of our money we give them.
Even if it passed, Measure 26-199 wouldn’t even come close to meeting the area’s housing needs. Despite nearly a billion dollars, it would only cover a fraction of them.
Voters would be wise to reject this ill-conceived shell game and demand that Metro and its bureaucrats adopt common-sense policies that make it easier to build homes, instead of continuing to be one of the biggest obstacles to affordable housing in the Portland area.