Senator Ray Holmberg: Measure 5 Puts Conservation Ahead Of Other Interests

We’ve all been at buffets. Some are piled high with delicious food and others not so much. Get behind the wrong person in line and your favorite morsel might be gone. You are really out of luck if times are tough, there is little food on the buffet, and you are at the back of the line.

I cannot look at Measure 5 without thinking of that analogy. Measure 5 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove five percent of our state’s oil and gas extraction tax revenue and place it in a conservation fund for each of the next 25 years. It will amount to $308 million for the upcoming biennium. The goal of more investment in conservation is not at all bad, but placing it in the constitution is flawed.

Our state’s budget is built on energy and agriculture. Both commodity sectors have seen dramatic drops in value and prices in recent months. What does the future hold? No one knows but commodities never keep going up, up, up.

What I do know is that no matter what the next 25 years may bring to our state’s economy, an overflowing or skimpy buffet for example, the passage of measure # 5 will constitutionally mandate that the same folks get to go through the buffet line first and fill their large plates ahead of everyone else. The legislature will be left to prioritize what is left on the buffet for education and infrastructure, among other things.

Although the legislature does not always get it right, if we get it wrong it is much easier to make necessary changes than it is to change the Constitution.

Please join me in voting no on Number 5.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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