More Minnis Hijinks?

Jeff Alworth

Legislating is hard business.  You've got a lot constituents, and they don't all agree.  You're trying to meet the needs of the taxpayers and money's tight.  Oh, and then there's the other party, who, while you're trying to cut taxes and hold down spending to keep your base happy,  is forever trying to keep cops on the beat and the schools open.  Sometimes, it's too much for an ideologue to handle.

Thus we have the newest parlor game from Secretary of State Karen Minnis*: taking her Ways and Means ball and going home.  The Ways and Means committee, as you know, is the joint body wherein the Senate and House try to hammer out the budget.  And, as you further know, the House has a GOP majority, the Senate, Democratic.  Which means: hard business.

Karen Minnis has a habit of avoiding the hard business of politics, the old give and take required to hammer out compromise.  Wasn't it Bush who observed that dictatorships are so much easier?  Anyway, today she continued this habit by announcing that the House GOP would be pulling out of the Ways and Means process and setting up a House Budget Committee.  Below, from the press release (.pdf):

“My first preference remains passing budget bills through the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, however, we need to get moving on the state’s next budget.  And right now, there is NO movement in the Joint Ways and Means process. My hope is that, by appointing a House Budget Committee, we can begin to move forward and ensure certainty for schools and other state services.”

Let's see: in order to come to an agreement with the Senate, you sequester yourself in your own private committee.  If it makes sense, someone's going to have to explain it to me.  Let's see, maybe she clarifies it here: 

“While I hope we can have meaningful discussions with my Senate colleagues, we must first come to an agreement on a spending level for schools, since education represents almost half of state spending.”

Hope to have a meaningful discussion, leaving the joint committee...nope, that's not it.  Well, I don't know, you figure it out.

*[Update]  Yes, I am aware that Karen Minnis is not the Secretary of State.  (I even know who the Secretary of State is--Phil Kiesling, right?)  But somehow, the phrase "Speaker of the House" slowly leaves the creaking infrastructure of my brain, and by the time it hits the keyboard, it's "Secretary of State."  It's only going to get worse.  Please don't call attention.

  • ron ledbury (unverified)

    Spending bills, by the way, are supposed to originate in the House anyway, aren't they? Why should the House let the Senate muscle in on the constitutionally delegated authority of the House?

    Is this balance somehow bad? If so, you might make your case for changing the current structure through an initiative.

    I thought b!X took the cake by firing off the bigot word so often that it became synonymous with b!X. Are you wishing to do the same for both ideologue and dictatorship?

    The ball is hers to do with as she will. I just wish she would split PERS costs off from schools. The schools always seem to say that all things PERS related are the State's fault and the State always says that they have no control over how the local schools spend their money. Can we really make everybody happy? I want my public school services and my health care services and I know where must come from; the pot of borrowed PERS Obligation Bond dollars that need not have been borrowed in the first place. This pool of money is likely to go poof anyway when the stock market and housing market finally goes plop. (Unless, of course, the bond peddlers and pension actuaries are willing to guarantee the returns on private investments rather than the taxpayer or the folks that will be denied education services and health services.)

    I do hope that she will save public schools in spite of the cabal that claims to represent public education as they feed off it for the one private commercial gain in their quest to become immune from the risk of capitalism. It was, after all, the public school advocates that wanted to buy PGE for their own private gain. I'm pretty sure that Ted will find some way to spread the graft widely enough to keep everybody happy, for now, so they can all leave accountability as an issue for a future legislature to try to resolve.

  • JTT (unverified)

    I'm not going to even try to take on the rest of the post, but what I think you are actually referring to is the constitutional requirement that revenue bills originate in the House. Spending/budget bills can originate in either the House or the Senate and they do (they alternate by agency each biennium which is the chamber of origin).

  • (Show?)

    Man, don't even get me started on Karen Minnis.

    She is the biggest roadblock in this state when it comes to getting anything done.

    If things don't go the way she personally wants them to go (forget the constituents, what does she care anyway?), she packs up her toys and heads home.

    Those in leadership positions within the State House and Senate need to be people willing to compromise. They should be people willing to sit down at the table with the other side and at least talk. She absolutely refuses to do any of this.

    As someone who lives in eastern Multnomah County, I am ashamed to say she represents this area. People out here need to wise up and take a close look at the people who represent them in the State House (Minnis, Lim).

  • (Show?)

    Wait, who's this Bradbury guy?

  • Brian Grisham (unverified)

    I'll bet Doyle wishes she was Secretary of State.

  • alph (unverified)

    The amazing thing about her unwillingness to stick around and negotiate is the fact that it is inevitable that the Senate will pass a different version of the budget and they will have to come back together again in a conference committee. At that time the fight is even going to be worse because both the House and Senate will be locked into their spending plans since they went through all the hardships to get that chamber on board.

  • Some things are binary (unverified)

    Had an interesting conversation with someone in the Speaker's office today. Asked a question which they were unprepared to answer.

    You may have seen the piece in today's Oregonian about Tigard Tualatin district hiring away Sherwood's Supt. for more money than originally planned by earlier school board action.

    That money has to come from somewhere--music programs, salaries of lower level staff, class size, transportation, whatever.

    I called the Speaker's office to ask if there was any way to regulate such use of basically state school funding. The woman answering the phone did not know the answer, except that there is such a thing as local control. I said I would like to know if that was law or tradition, given other bills which have sought to regulate various aspects of school district behavior. She didn't know if it was law or tradition but asked if she could put me on hold and ask someone. After what seemed like several minutes, she came back and said "that's just the way things are done".

    Seems to me some things are binary. 2 people had a meeting on a particular day, or they didn't. Something is either spelled out in statute or it is merely a matter of rhetoric/ tradition. I suspect some legislative offices are not capable of answering such direct, factual questions.

  • (Show?)

    Binary, it is of course, also true that there is total and exclusive local control over schools. Except where the state has exerted its power and created funded and unfunded mandates. And, the feds, too. But besides that, there's local control.

    Of course, there's so many holes in that there swiss cheese that there may not actually be any cheese left... just a big hole.

  • justin (unverified)

    All this means is that the 2005 session will probably last longer than the 2003 session, which was record breaking at the time. And if I remember correctly, the Republican's caved in 2003, by passing a tax increase. (which the citizens of Oregon soundly defeated). So, the R's are going to stand strong this session. (or at least until August).

    "Smoke 'em if you got 'em. It's gonna be a long one."

  • your friend (unverified)

    Jenni S said "Man, don't even get me started on Karen Minnis. She is the biggest roadblock in this state when it comes to getting anything done."

    What does "getting anything done" mean? As far as I can tell, with Democrats, it's tax increases and bone head wacked out bills like unfunded Culural Competency nonsense dumped on our school to devour any additional money. In the case of taxes it's the voters who are the biggest roadblock. Darn those voters anyway.

    And, the Democrats agreed on a spending total and are now threatening to break that agreement because they can't get their way. But it's Minnis' fault of course.

    Some of us remember Democrats breaking their word (after M30 failed) on the so called "time certain" special session for tax reform too.

  • (Show?)

    YF... "bone head wacked out bills like unfunded Culural Competency nonsense"

    You got a bill number on that?

  • your friend (unverified)

    SB 50 Just what our schools don't need.

    What cultural competency means for teachers: Summit Report, page 8.

    A culturally competent teacher advocates for social justice A culturally competent teacher exhibits awareness of key concepts: privilege, affirmative action, assimilation vs. pluralism, color blindness vs. color awareness, meritocracy, etc. A culturally competent teacher has the ability to receive and integrate critiques of cultural competence A culturally competent teacher understands the ways schools reproduce inequality The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission will revise rules, after review, to achieve high cultural competency standards including possible revocation of licensure for culturally incompetent behavior The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission will ensure new and existing licensed educators are culturally competent The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission will require cultural competence for license renewal A culturally competent teacher must apply cultural competencies and believe it A culturally competent teacher must embrace and implement the standards

  • (Show?)

    I propose we find a candidate to take on Minnis in 2006. I am prepared to walk the streets of Gresham/Troutdale for this candidate and I'm sure the Bus would love such a project. So, who is the candidate?

  • panchopdx (unverified)

    The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission will require cultural competence for license renewal......A culturally competent teacher must apply cultural competencies and believe it

    Did I read this right?

    Holy Cr@p!

    What happens to the teacher who follows the guide to cultural competency but (like a lot of people) genuinely considers the whole thing a total crock?

    "I'm sorry Mr. Smith, but your recent letter to the editor suggests you may not really believe in Oregon's Cultural Competency Guidlelines. Therefore, we are going to have to investigate you further before we renew your teaching license."

  • BillO (unverified)

    The candidate should be Rod Park -- conservative Democrat. Unfortunately, he's friendly with Karen Minnis.

    He's got profile, he's been elected out there, he's got support of the Governor (who endorsed him against Laurie Monnes Anderson), etc.

  • (Show?)

    "Getting anything done" means...

    Actually passing a balanced budget within session without requiring multiple special sessions.

    Actually fix the budget, not put band-aids on a gaping wound.

    Look at the tax structure here in Oregon and look at what needs to be fixed (such as multi-state corporations paying $10).

    Instead, Minnis refuses to work with anyone. If people within her party do the right thing and sit down to work out a compromise, she makes sure they aren't re-elected.

    This will cause the budget process to take several times as long as it should. A lot of time will be wasted instead of fixing the problems this state is having.

  • (Show?)

    Rod Park is definitely not the candidate for that district.

    If I remember correctly, he lives in HD 50 (represented by Lim). I remember people trying to talk him into running for the house seat instead.

    Second, is was very stupid for the governor to endorse Park over Monnes Anderson. She was the better candidate in the race, and it showed in the primary election (she beat him by 16%).

    <h2>I live out in that area, and I can tell you that I honestly do not believe he could beat Minnis.</h2>

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