Don McIntire, sponsor of 1990 property tax measure, dies at 74

Don McIntire, sponsor of 1990 property tax measure, dies at 74
Don McIntire (KATU file photo).

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Don McIntire, the chief sponsor of the 1990 measure that placed limits on Oregon property taxes, was found dead Friday at his Gresham home. He was 74.

McIntire's wife, Romaine, confirmed the death. She said she was not certain of the cause.

McIntire was a longtime anti-tax activist best known for his role in the passage of Ballot Measure 5, which cut property taxes and largely shifted the responsibility for school funding to the state income tax instead of local property taxes.

"That property tax limitation saved Oregon property owners over $5 billion in its first 10 years alone," Steve Buckstein of the Cascade Policy Institute, a libertarian think tank, said in an online tribute page. "Every Oregonian who wants to keep government in check owes Don McIntire a huge debt of gratitude."

Measure 5 was approved 52 percent to 48 percent, and Oregonians have remained split on whether it was a good thing.

Supporters say it curbed government spending and provided needed tax relief. But opponents contend it has hurt public education. Though poor school districts started getting more money after the shift, other districts have seen programs cut and class sizes increase.

In a 1999 interview with The Associated Press, McIntire said school administrators who complain about inadequate funding were crying wolf. He blamed bloated "pay, perks and pensions" for any shortages in the classroom.

"The squeeze isn't coming from belt-tightening," he said. "School budgets are getting fatter faster than we can punch new holes in the belt."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.