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Oregon Kids Biggest Election Losers?

November 8, 2007

Portland, OR – After Oregon's most expensive political campaign ever, a health plan for children went up in smoke as voters rejected Measure 50. Supporters of the plan say the loss comes at the expense of uninsured Oregon kids.

Measure 50 would have increased tobacco taxes to pay for children's healthcare. Tobacco companies spent $12 million to defeat the plan, four times more than its supporters.

The battle's not over, though. That's the message from advocates, including Oregon's governor, who supported Measure 50, and Healthy Kids Oregon spokesperson Cathy Kaufmann.

"We'll look to our political leaders to come up with another solution, but there isn't one waiting, and in the meantime these children are going to go without the healthcare that they need."

Kaufmann says it is sad when out-of-state tobacco companies can come to Oregon and buy an election.

"Unfortunately, the real losers are the 100,000 children around this state who need healthcare coverage and aren't going to get it any time soon."

Opponents say the biggest objections to the measure were putting a tax in the state constitution and singling out smokers to be taxed. Govenor Kulongoski has promised that the legislature will revisit the issue in the 2009 session but has not mentioned addressing it during the short supplemental session in 2008.

Dondrea Warner/John Robinson, Public News Service - OR