Our Oregon and the Corporate Kicker for K-12 campaign won’t be participating in the so-called “Citizens Initiative Review” process because it’s a poor use of public resources and campaign time, and there’s no evidence that it has any impact on voters.
Since 2010, the CIR project has cost at least a half a million dollars, costing at least $210,000 just for the two upcoming panels. If the backers of the Citizens Initiative Review were serious about increasing public engagement, they could spend that money instead on voter registration. With $210,000, they could have registered some 30,000 Oregonians to vote.
The CIR is funded in large part by private organizations, but staffing has been paid for by a loan from the state. So far, no accounting has been made public about how much of that money has been paid back, if any.
While Oregon is facing ongoing cuts to schools and basic services like health care and public safety, the state shouldn’t be giving or loaning money to ineffective projects like this one. How ever much money or staff time has been given or loaned to the project is money that should have been spent in Oregon classrooms or on critical projects.
It’s also a waste of campaign time and resources. With fewer than 90 days before ballots come out, our campaign has limited time and money to spend talking with voters, and we’re going to spend those resources in the most effective way possible. Instead of spending a week in a Salem conference center with 30 people, we will spend our time talking to thousands of voters in their own communities.
Finally, there is very strong evidence that the output of Citizen’s Initiative Review has zero impact on shaping the opinions of voters. Their recent track record is 0-2.
In 2010, the review panel was opposed to Measure 73 (Kevin Mannix’s mandatory minimums) by a vote of 21-3. The measure passed with 57% of the vote. On Measure 74 (medical marijuana), the panel supported the measure by a vote of 13-11. That measure failed with about 56% of the vote.
This abysmal track record shows that the panels are far from representative of the voting public, and that the materials they produce don’t have any impact on how voters make their decisions.