The Board of Directors for the Cascade Policy Institute recently voted to oppose Measure 86, known as the Oregon Opportunity Initiative, on November’s ballot.

Measure 86 would require the creation of a Permanent Fund for Post-Secondary Education, which can be funded a number of ways, including by the state selling general obligation bonds. Earnings on the Fund can be used to subsidize certain students, but it will be taxpayers who are saddled with paying off any bonds for 30 years, with interest.

Further, only 30 percent of Oregon’s 2014 high school graduates showed readiness for college, based on ACT college admissions tests.

“We shouldn’t spend more money on higher education until our public school system prepares most college-bound students to actually succeed there,” said Cascade Founder and Senior Policy Analyst Steve Buckstein. “Otherwise, we’re just paying twice for remedial courses to teach college students what they should have learned in high school.”

Measure 86 is based on what one researcher calls “one of America’s most durable myths…that the more people who graduate from college, the more the economy will grow.” However, Richard Vedder, author of the book “Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much,” notes that conclusion may depend on how those educations are paid for. He found statistical evidence that states which provide more higher education funding actually have slightly lower economic growth rates than states which provide less.

“Individuals know their needs better than politicians do, so leaving the money in private hands produces better results,” said Buckstein.

Finally, even the chief sponsor of Measure 86, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler,  criticized the university system for being slow to adapt to new opportunities in technology which can make education cheaper and easier for students*.

“As technology drives down higher education costs, why saddle Oregon taxpayers with perhaps $100 million or more in debt for the next 30 years to subsidize the old, high-cost economic model? The answer is we shouldn’t,” said Buckstein.

* Video of Treasurer Wheeler’s statement is online at:

2 Responses to “Cascade Policy Institute Encourages a ‘No’ Vote on Measure 86”

  1. Mark October 15, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    I’ve followed Vedder’s materials on the Chronicle for Higher Education & other sites, and I’ve come to similar conclusions on my own research.

    Notwithstanding numerous requests for more information on Oregon’s 40/40/20 plan, I’ve never received anything in response that supports the underlying premises that pouring more $ into the current system is going to improve things. Quite the contrary.

    If one looks at the basic data from the Oregon and Federal Bureaus of Labor, their projections don’t suggest anything close to 40/40/20 for the job market. We’ve already got as many ‘degrees’ in general as our job market will support for the foreseeable future. What we don’t have is a match of skills with job needs. Plenty of ‘degree’ ‘grads’ with under-employment – like my daughter & her boyfriend with degrees in Biology from a top-notch private liberal arts college. And plenty of PhDs as barristas, taxidrivers, etc.

    I encourage everyone to actually look at the data – what we really need is for our public schools to help prepare our children for the world beyond the institutional cocoons we’ve created – it really is a shame that so many have to take remedial courses – subjects they could & should have mastered to graduate from high school.

    Here are links that give projections for employment:

    Oregon projections:>

    Federal projections:

    National Bureau of Economic Research (MIT):

    One of Vedder’s many Chronicle articles:

  2. Phil Stevens October 28, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    I believe your number – 30% ready for post high school education – is a bit high. Of course, considering that college has been watered down, that sounds about right. I guess my question to you, or to any other critic of the public school system – and this coming from a fairly conservative public school teacher who home schooled his kids through the middle school years – is simply: How come you guys seldom seem to blame the parents before you blame the teachers? I mean, the 30% seems about spot-on for parental dysfunction. How many of you ever ask to observe public school classrooms, interview public school teachers to see first-hand the types of student behavior they deal with, witness the tardies and absences, then the demand to be given “make-up” work? So, you really don’t know what goes on in the trenches, do you? Well, I do, and in particular, you can have my 6th period class so that I can go home and spend more time with my law-abiding, God-fearing, fully-employed, tax-paying, children. We ain’t all liberals, you know:)

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