House Dems: We're putting it in writing.

By Rep. Jeff Merkley (D-Portland). Jeff serves as the Democratic Leader of the Oregon House Democrats.

This fall, Oregon House Democratic members and candidates are going to do something that has become far to rare in politics these days - we are going to tell you where we stand and exactly what we will do if Democrats lead the Oregon House in 2006. The Oregon Legislature was once a respected institution of innovation and cooperation reflecting the pioneering values of Oregonians. The Oregon House Democrats have a detailed plan to provide the strong leadership necessary to make the Oregon House matter to Oregon families once again.

This plan entitled "The Roadmap for Oregon's Future" is a list of a dozen specific policies that the Oregon House Democrats promise to enact as the leaders of the 2007 Oregon House. These twelve common sense proposals are not ideological or partisan. In fact, we are confident that at least two thirds of legislators from both sides of the aisle will support the proposals outlined in "The Roadmap" on the House floor. These are proposals that an overwhelming majority of Oregonians - from rural, urban and suburban communities - want to see the legislature enact. These proposals deal with the problems and issues that Oregonians see in their communities and read about in newspapers everyday:

Your first reaction to "The Roadmap" may be to shrug and say something like "Wow, there's nothing really that controversial on this list. This is all common sense stuff." We agree. Incredibly, every proposal on this list was either killed or ignored by the House Republicans during the last session. That is the key difference between Democrats and Republicans in this election.

With Republicans in charge for 16 years, we've seen the Oregon House become bitter, nasty and ineffective. We've seen the common sense priorities of Oregon families crushed by Republican party bosses and their powerful special interest contributors. With Democrats leading the way in 2007, we promise to take the Oregon House in a new direction and with our "Roadmap for Oregon's Future" we show you exactly where we will take Oregon.

If you agree with "The Roadmap for Oregon's Future" and you agree that the Oregon House needs new strong leadership then please help our campaign to take the back the House today with a financial contribution. We are fighting everyday to get strong new leaders elected in districts across the state. Your contribution today is guaranteed to be spent 100% on a House Democratic campaign to help a candidate who supports "The Roadmap for Oregon's Future".

Together we can all make a difference for Oregon.

Warmest Regards,

Jeff Merkley
House Democratic Leader


  • (Show?)

    Jeff, your work continues to inspire. Elucidating how a progressive agenda is in everybody's interest is hard work, but you make it look easy. And by borrrowing your words, it's easier for the rest of us, too. Thanks.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)

    Don't mean to rain on this parade but....the next question are you going to pay for the health insurance for all children and the increased spending on schools? Not to mention the jails, defense attorneys, prosecutore and courts necessary to enforce the new criminal laws and meth enforcement, the costs of the audits, the cost of enfocement on the new rules and regulations on the medical industry, etc....

    Don't get me wrong, these all sound like pretty good proposals, but ignoring the funding part gives this platform a grade of incomplete.

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    Incomplete? Or simply a commitment to get it done?

  • KISS (unverified)

    Another "feel-good" speech. I feel so warm and fuzzy. It's what lacking that should be questioned. Corporation entitlements free tax breaks? Proficiency audits of bureaus?,Giving the middle and low end class a break on taxes. Never throw a hard ball to a demo it hurts their feeling..heh.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    Thank you Jeff. It will take bold leadership to set priorities and ALSO increase revenue to pay for these worthwhile programs, and I hope the next legislature has the fortitude to do both.

  • Dan J (unverified)


    How much must taxes be raised to pay for these wonderful suggestions?

    If taxes aren't raised, which other programs will be cut or eliminated?

    Without answers to these questions, this it typical political BS that the majority of the electorate understands to be pure fluff.

    Has there been any thought to a flat state tax with all household incomes below a certain level excluded from all taxes? This would be both fair and progressive?

  • (Show?)

    Has there been any thought to a flat state tax with all household incomes below a certain level excluded from all taxes?

    We already basically have a flat state tax.

    If your income range is between $0 and $2,600, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 5%. If your income range is between $2,601 and $6,500, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 7%. If your income range is $6,501 and over, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 9%.

    It doesn't exclude folks at the lowest end, but above $6500 in income it's flat. (FYI, these are 2004 numbers.)

  • Dan J (unverified)


    I'm talking about making the flat tax truly flat. One rate, no exemptions.


    Let's say that all household below $25,000 pay no state taxes. All households above pay a flat 5%.


    When we institute a truly progressive flat tax, get rid of all lottery games. Lottery gaming and high cig taxes are the most regressive taxes imaginable.

    Jeff, any comments?

  • True Blue (unverified)

    House Democrats:

    Leadership, vision, progressive values, a plan and the man to get us there.

    Nothing inspires me this year like the chance we have to put a gavel in jeff Merkeley's hands.

    61 days to do it in, folks. Lets get to work.

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    I didn't see any massive increase in spending proposed, Dan. You're the one being absurd, proposing a massive tax cut while carefully avoiding any mention of what services you'd cut to keep the budget in balance. Or do you simply propose to raise taxes on the poor to compensate for the tax giveaways you propose for the rich?

    Until you can learn to add and subtract, shut the f**k up.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)

    Kari: In answer to your question, its incomplete.

    I don't understand your comment that this agenda conveys a commitment to "get it done". You can't get any of this done without sufficient funding. Failing to identify a source of funding is in fact a commitment not to get it done.

    If the D's gain control of the house there will be no mandate to do these things because there will be no mandate to fund them. And since the D's are apparently concerned that revealing a funding source or sources now would lead to possibly losing as the R's bang them over the head with the "liberal tax raisers" label, I dare say, I can't see them actually enacting legislation that would fund these programs since that would surely lead them to defeat in two years.

    Or...we could have a conversation about this agenda and its source of funding and how many of these programs, while they may cost some taxpayers money, will benefit us all, reduce our personel out of pocket costs, thus offsetting any tax increases, and make us all better off. That discussion would even attract some Westlund supporters.

  • LT (unverified)

    Or...we could have a conversation about this agenda and its source of funding and how many of these programs, while they may cost some taxpayers money, will benefit us all, reduce our personel out of pocket costs, thus offsetting any tax increases, and make us all better off. That discussion would even attract some Westlund supporters.

    Very wise statement, Robert. Disappointed Westlund supporters interviewed this summer said they'd be looking for specifics, intelligent discussion of issues, and be opposed to those who attacked opponents. Doesn't exactly sound like the GOP target audience, does it?

    One thing I wonder--was this Roadmap sent to all the legislative D challengers before it was published?

    I like the specifics in this plan.

    Let's hear why Republicans are against:

    Accountable use of our tax dollars. High quality public schools. Creating and protecting good paying jobs. Affordable health care and prescription drugs. Safe communities and protecting our kids. Smart economic growth.

    or how they intend to accomplish those in different fashion than what was done in 2005.

    Heck, let's hear Republican incumbents even define terms like "creating good paying jobs", "smart economic growth", "high quality public schools". I'm not sure they could be pinned down as to what they mean by "accountability"--certainly not by any audit function they supported. Do they even know what the Legislative Comm. discussed with regard to accountability? Or would that require too much homework except for the few legislators actually on the commission?

  • Dan J (unverified)

    Thanks for your mature comments Steve.

    Very emotional, liberal response from you. How typical.

    You seem to speak the most and offer the least.

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    One thing I wonder--was this Roadmap sent to all the legislative D challengers before it was published?

    As I understand it, the Roadmap is a consensus document among the House Dems. I'll defer to the folks who were in the room (I wasn't) for more details.

  • Mari Anne (unverified)

    Good start but I wonder why the House Dem's are not addressing environmental issues. Not only do we have some of the most toxic rivers in the nation but we also produce the 4th highest mercury contamination in the US. We Democrats consider ourselves "environmentalists" but we often forget that we must lead on the issues rather than just defend our "old" environmental status.

    And how could the House Dem's forget about "Renewable Energy"? Becoming energy independent is something that moves Oregon forward and will make a difference to every Oregon voter in the state. I hope the House Dem's will include these issues in their "Roadmap".

  • (Show?)

    Mari Anne,

    Please read proposal #9 on the list. The House Democrats will enact the biofuels package the House R's killed in 2005 when they insisted on loading it up with tax givaways to polluters.

    I have one very quick response to those who question the authenticity of this plan by going to the classic and predictable right wing charge of "how are you going to pay for this without raising taxes"....

    Anyone knowledgable about these proposals and the state budget knows that they can all be funded with existing revenue and previously voter approved revenue sources. Its really very simple.

  • (Show?)

    Dan J:

    Steven is rude, but correct. Your suggestion, when casually compared with Kari's summary of the status quo, clearly yields FAR LESS REVENUE. Then you suggest the opposite, by implying that your plan could do away with video crack etc.

    If there is more nuance to your argument, please spell it out. Otherwise, the only conclusion we can draw is that you don't know how to add and subtract.

  • josh reynolds (unverified)

    Okay, am I the only one who sees the oxymoron in the piece that says creating and protecting good paying jobs and smart economic growth? We are talking about the state legislature, right????? It doesn't matter if it is controlled by R's or D's, stay the hell out of way when it comes to the economy.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)

    Gosh, earlier this week week Rumsfeld let me know I was a liberal appeaser because I think Bush Screwed up the fight agasint terrorism. Now I'm being told because I asked how the House D's intend on funding thier agenda that I'm an ignorant right winger.

    But Maybe Mr. Isaacs as referring to Blue Note? Since s/he was the only person who assumed tax increases would be required to fund this agenda. Dan came close also though he did refer to taxes or cuts.

    I know the House D's, along with Future Pac, of which Mr. Isaacs is the exec director don't want to have this discussion, but I'd suggest it is counterproductive to refer to erstwhile allies as ignorant right wingers. And its really bad strategy to brag that you know how to fund these programs but haven't shared that information with those of us out of the loop. Want to get my support, explain how this agenda is funded.

  • Rep. Peter Buckley (unverified)


    We'd love to have your support. First of all, does the agenda make sense to you--is the the right direction for Oregon to move in? We believe it is. For funding, one wild card is the proposed spending cap initiative, Measure 48, which is absolutely the wrong direction for us to go. If that should pass, not only will this agenda be impossible, but we will be spending our time cutting pretty much everything our state needs--great public education, expanded health care, public safety, etc.

    So--if the agenda makes sense and Measure 48 is defeated, the funds will come from:

    --a larger general fund projected for 2007-2009 (over $14 billion compared to the current $12.4 billion),

    --combined with the matching funds from the feds for health care (we get close to two bucks back for every buck we invest in covering our kids, for instance),

    --combined with the elimination of special interest tax breaks that have not proven to be fair or effective (I proposed eliminating 12 specfic tax breaks in 2005 that would bring back over $115 million to the state and also help to keep jobs in Oregon, and I'm determined to bring the proposal back up again if we get to majority and can actually have it considered in the House),

    --and combined with a renewal of the 10 cent per pack cigarette tax that was eliminated in 2003.

    The diversion of the corporate kicker to higher education (and to the rainy day fund) is also an idea that has possible bipartisan backing from the statements I have heard and read from a number of Republicans.

    Please note that is is just MY list. Other House Dems have their own ways to address the funding. The point is, as Jon indicated above, that we have worked hard to develop an agenda that can be passed and be paid for without any kind of extraordinary measures. We know we cannot count on our Republican colleagues to support any significant additional revenue increases. We intend to get into the majority and get an agenda accomplished, and there are definitely ways to do so. I hope this helps with the funding question for you, and that you will help us do what we're setting out to do.

  • Scott Bricker (unverified)

    Perhaps I'm not the public messaging guy, but I think the platform is missing big issues like transportation / infrastructure and protecting Oregon's communities and natural beauty with smart development.

    A) Oregon currently lacks the money to maintain our public infrastructure and roads, but our state agencies are pushing continued expansion. We must do more with less and reinvest into our town centers, mainstreets, and small towns.

    B) Oregon faces major threats to our land-use planning programs, the Big Look may have a major impact on the shape of our state and Dems must weigh in.

    Is the Dream is still alive?

  • Robert Harris (unverified)

    Rep. Buckley...Thats what I'm talking about. Thank you for an intelligent concise statement of funding.

    I'd also suggest making that overtly a part of your Roadmap or else the funding aspect will be defined for you. I know a lot of people will take issue with the state spending the large increases in projected revenue and call it a tax increase,(but they're going to define this roadmap as one leading to higher taxes anyway, so what the heck) Without this discussion though you'll have no mandate.You may win, and it may be good politics, but you'll still have no mandate to do big things.

  • LT (unverified)

    Scott, "more with less" has been tried and is often less with less.

    I suspect part of Westlund's appeal was the idea that we need serious tax restructing debates which don't devolve into "ending a tax cut is a tax increase" silliness.

    Let's have a public debate on SB 382 which had some very interesting sponsors across the political spectrum.

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