Emails Show Why Metro’s Multibillion-Dollar Transportation Measure Has Drawn Lots of Opposition

By Nigel Jaquiss

Unemployment in Multnomah County stands at 11%, a point higher than the state average. More layoffs are expected when the summer travel and dining season ends. Schools won’t open before April, and many local businesses will see no revenue until a vaccine for COVID-19 emerges.

Yet in this dismal economic climate, Portland voters face a remarkable slate of requests for new taxes on the November ballot.

Among the money measures: a $1.2 billion Portland Public Schools bond; a $387 million Multnomah County Library measure; a $240 million Portland Parks & Recreation operating levy; and a Multnomah County preschool measure that would raise $133 million next year.

“I can’t remember a time when there were so many tax measures on the ballot,” says Jim Moore, professor of political science at Pacific University.

But without a doubt, the measure that has elicited the strongest response is the package of transportation investments that Metro, the regional government, just sent to voters—a $4 billion tax to fund a new light rail line to Tualatin, a new Burnside Bridge, and several highway fixes.