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Oregon Voters To Decide On Independent Commission For Public Official Salaries

Proposed ballot measure aims to take salary determinations out of the hands of politicians and establish an impartial commission.
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On Nov. 5, 2024, Oregon voters will decide on establishing a commission that would determine the salaries of certain public officials.

The ballot measure, which passed the Oregon State Legislature on June 25, would amend the Oregon Constitution to establish the Independent Public Service Compensation Commission. The commission would decide the salaries of the governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, state senators, state representatives, district attorneys, judges of the Oregon Supreme Court, judges of other courts under the administration of the judicial branch of state government, and commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries or any successor agency. The constitutional amendment would prohibit state officials, employees, lobbyists, and family members of these individuals from serving on the commission.

State Democratic Leader Katie Lieber, who co-sponsored the amendment, said, “This is really about professionalizing, in some ways, how we do this and taking our own salaries out of the hands of politicians to set. I want to make sure that wage analyses are able to be done by human resource professionals who have an expertise in compensation.”

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp, who also co-sponsored the amendment, said, “Compensation professionals who do this work for a living need to make these salary determinations, not special interests, nor legislators with conflicts of interest. I am proud to have joined with Leader Lieber in a bipartisan way to take this issue to the ballot for the people of Oregon to decide how to proceed.”

A man sigsn a blank check in this file photo. The proposed commission would decide the salaries of officials including the governor and secretary of state, among others. Ballotpedia

The amendment was introduced in the Oregon State Legislature as Senate Joint Resolution 34 (SJR 34) on June 15, 2023. On June 21, the state Senate passed SJR 34 in a vote of 21-4. On June 24, the House passed SJR 34 in a vote of 47-3.

The amendment is one of three ballot measures that the Oregon State Legislature passed on June 25. The other two measures, which voters will decide in 2024, are a constitutional amendment and a state statute. The other constitutional amendment would allow the Oregon State Legislature to impeach and remove elected state executives. The legislatively referred state statute would establish ranked-choice voting for federal and state offices. So far, these three measures are the only statewide ballot measures being decided by Oregon voters in 2024.

From 1985 to 2022, the Oregon State Legislature referred 114 binding measures to the ballot. Voters approved 75, or 65.8%, and rejected 39, or 34.2%. In an even-numbered year, like 2024, the Legislature referred an average of four to five measures to the ballot during the 1985-2022 period. The Legislature can refer more measures to next year’s general election ballot during the 2024 legislative session. Campaigns for citizen-initiated ballot measures have until July 5, 2024, to file signatures.

Produced in association with Ballotpedia

Edited by Bhujaya Ray Chowdhury and Virginia Van Zandt

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