Voters say yes to veterans

SALEM — Measure 96 passed 83 to 16 percent statewide and countywide. In Polk County, 31,636 people voted yes, while 6,066 voted no.

Measure 96 will dedicate 1.5 percent of Oregon Lottery dollars to veteran outreach services.

Rep. Paul Evans (D) and Sen. Brian Boquist (R) co-sponsored the bill to refer the measure to the ballot.

Evans said passage of the measure means 83 percent of Oregon voters want a $19 million expansion of veterans outreach and services in a two-year period.

“That’s a little under $10 million a year going to county veteran service officers, outreach, housing,” he said. “What that means for me and the co-chairing sponsors is we need to guard against what is very likely to happen.”

Evans said he expects budget staff won’t support it and may promote “budget harvests,” or “budget sweeps,” making cuts to the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs with the expectation to use the newly appointed Lottery dollars.

“It was never designed to be a replacement, rather an augmentation,” Evans said. “Obviously, if there are a bunch of challenges the state has to go through, no department should be spared, but I want to be clear that the veterans department should not be cut deeper than other departments.”

Evans said it will be his job, along with co-chair sponsors of Measure 96, to ensure that doesn’t happen.

“Things change,” he said. “Sometimes things need to be cut, but if it exceeds that and is clearly seen as a large, massive supplanting, then that wouldn’t be allowed to happen because it would not be what the voters wanted.”

Other measures

Measure 97, a corporate tax that was expected to raise $6 billion in tax revenue over two years, was struck down by voters 59 to 40 percent statewide.

Measure 98, requiring money to be dedicated to high school student education, passed 65 to 34.

Measure 99, dedicating Oregon Lottery money to pay for Outdoor School, passed 66 to 33.

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