Update: Measure86has been defeated. Read an updated version of this story.
Oregon voters are so far split onMeasure 86, which would have allowed the state to borrow money to endow a fund for college financial aid.
At the close ofvoting Tuesday, 55 percent of voters were against the measure, while 45 percent were in support. About 32percent of votes had been counted.
The measure waschampioned by Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who proposed creating the endowment as an out-of-the-box way to help more young Oregonians afford college.
Oregon currently provides only about $250 a year of need-based financial aid per student enrolled in public universities and community colleges. That is 60 percent below the national average.
Ifthe measure is defeated, the Oregon Legislature will be left to fund college financial aid using money from the general fund, not by borrowing money and funding scholarships with the investment proceeds. Oregons higher education commission has requestedthe state increase its spending on financial aid by 60 percent, or about $66 million, in the next two year budget.
However, if the measure is passed, the Legislature will decide how much, if any, money it wants to borrow to put in the new fund.
Wheeler has said he hopes lawmakers will seed the fund with $100 million, to be repaid by Oregon taxpayers over the next 30 years. A $100 million endowment would generate $5 million a year worth of college scholarships, with investment returns above 5 percent used to grow the endowment, Wheeler has said.
There was no organized opposition to the measure, and only one argument against it appeared in the Voters Pamphlet. Measure 86 was widely endorsed by business, labor and pro-student groups, but Wheeler spent and raised only about $90,000 to promote it.
Measure 86 was endorsed by the Salem Statesman-Journal, the Eugene Register-Guard, the East Oregonian and Willamette Week.The Bend Bulletin and The Oregonian both urged a no vote on Measure 86.
-- Betsy Hammond