Kulongoski and the Kicker

The biggest kicker ever is on its way -- a refund of roughly 17% of all personal income taxes paid -- due to a surging local economy. From the AP:

The projected $883 million tax refund would amount to about $175 for every $1,000 in personal income taxes paid in Oregon, state economist Tom Potiowsky said Thursday in his quarterly revenue and economic forecast.

Governor Ted Kulongoski, however, argued yesterday that the state should suspend the kicker for six years - and invest the money in schools and other programs.

“Oregon should call a ‘timeout’ for three bienniums to restore a budget severely hurt by recession,’’ he said. ... Kulongoski said Oregon is competing with other states in a global economy, and reductions in services such as education and health care make the state less attractive to business.

In addition, Kulongoski repeated his stand on the corporate kicker:

He added that an estimated corporate kicker of $198 million should be dedicated to a “rainy day’’ fund to cushion the budget from another recession.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • PG (unverified)

    Hmmm...why not put the personal kicker into the rainy day fund too.

    It sure would be nice if that was the idea.

    Everyone likes rainy day funds. It shows foresight. We'll have another recession in probably 3-4 years and it would be great if we didn't have to send the schools through another business cycle. The corporate kicker is not consistent enough to handle this task by itself.

    If we want to raise the overall spending on schools, I think we should do that separately. But, we shouldn't do it with kicker money, because that will only exacerbate the problem during the next downturn.

    By creating a rainy day fund, isn't that how we "stabilize school funding." I must be missing something...

  • (Show?)

    The "O's" editorial today pretty much sums up the how and why of Kulongoski's proposal. Once again, he risks his reelection by taking a common sense stance that Republicans will do all in their power to exploit. Investing in the education of our young people while preparing for an economic slowdown pales in comparison to banning gay marriages, anti flag burning, anti-reproductive rights, while remaining in Iraq. Minnis, Westlund and Saxton can turn on their country and western music, stomp around their campaign headquarters singing "Proud to be an Oregonian" Not............

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)

    " Investing in the education ..."

    Hah, that's a laugh. How has the recent I-Tax 'investment' helped PPS?

    Did you know the Oregon State Budget is increasing by 9.2% next biennium? Sure sounds like there's no shortage of money to me.

    Keep the kicker? What a great idea. Then they'll have even more of our money to waste.

  • Sid (unverified)

    From the O's editorial:

    Forty-four states are now deciding what to do with higher-than-expected 2006 tax revenues. In most of them, legislators and governors either are replenishing rainy day funds or investing the money into critical services such as schools, universities and community colleges to further strengthen their economies.

    North Carolina has a billion-dollar surplus and is increasing spending on K-12 education by 13 percent. Maryland is putting another $262 million into education. Hawaii is renovating 95 school buildings at a cost of $235 million. California is putting a whopping $2 billion more into schools.

    So, the question is: are we going to be a loser state just so everyone can get a few hundred dollars back or are we going to compete and create a highly educated citizenry that will grow and attract new and innovative businesses to the state? Because the housing boom that has created this kicker won't last. We need an economy based on something more reliable and long term in nature.

  • myranda (unverified)

    Kudos to Kulongoski for saying out loud that the kicker is woeful public policy. And kudos to the Oregonian for its cogent explanation of why the corporate kicker should be terminated(which the Rs won't do). As for the personal kicker, shame on us if we are willing to risk the consequences of a future (and inevitable) recession for about $600 each over the next three biennia.

  • (Show?)

    Well, as Bill Lunch said this morning on OPB, Kulongoski is playing to his base on an issue that has no chance for movement. But what the hell, it's the right position and it isn't a no-brainer that taking a strong position on it is good politics. For lefties who want some chutzpah from their Gov, here's a little. Good man.

  • LT (unverified)

    Chris, Did you know the Oregon State Budget is increasing by 9.2% next biennium? Sure sounds like there's no shortage of money to me. So, you think the budget is perfect the way it is? Or do you have specific changes you'd like to see--like debating the budget in public for a change?

    I called the Gov. office yesterday and said that the kicker idea was the smartest thing which he has said all year. Then I called the Speaker's office and said I'd just told the Gov. office that was the smartest thing the Gov. had said all year. The man who answered was startled.

    It is time to quit the debate over broad numbers like "Did you know the Oregon State Budget is increasing by 9.2% next biennium? " and talk about how that money is spent. First of all, what is the source of that estimate of budget increase? Won't the kicker punch a hole in that?

    School district and other outside audits, anyone? Are you happy with the current funding levels for state troopers? Is every tax break currently in effect doing what the sponsors of those breaks intended?

    This is an election year. Let's have some serious line-item discussions of the budget.

    Unless of course, you think Ron Saxton did wonders for Portland schools and will do the same for Oregon.

    Got an email from a rural friend whose Portland friends came to visit ove the long weekend. So my friend asked the Portland folks about Saxton and got this response: "I was told that the core reason that Portland is in the mess it has been is the way in which Saxton went about reducing the budget without sharing with the public what the School Board was doing. There was no public debate or knowledge that the classroom sizes went up by roughly 20%, that programs were slated to phase out (music in particular), etc. -- In other words, according to my friend, Saxton was a complete disaster."

    Perhaps there are Saxton supporters who can show evidence that Portland schools are in great shape with excellent music programs (don't tell this person from a musical family that school music is not important!), that they witnessed public debate in the age of Saxton, that there was awareness that classroom sizes would go up, etc.

    But I doubt it.

  • anon (unverified)

    Sorry Ted. That's our money we need it back.

    We can't even build our own 'rainy day funds'. Some of us are not getting 4.5% raises this year (and guaranteed 4.5% next year). We need that kicker check just to tread water, not to get ahead. It'll all be gone by the time we: (1)send extra to Peggy Fowler for PGE rate increases (2) send extra to Comcast Cable for rate increases (3) pay for DEQ inspection fees (4) pay for taxes & "other nominal fees" on cell phone bill and Quest line.

    It all adds up. Live within your budget. We have to.

  • Ben Dover (unverified)

    Well, that does it. I was leaning strongly toward voting for Saxton for governor this year and now Governor Kulongoski has pushed me over the edge.

    Why don't people realize that no matter how much money is sent to Salem every year, it will be spent and they will cry for more?

    If anyone thinks this "rainy day fund" will be used for anything other than public education (for the children) I have a bridge to sell you.

    I want my personal tax kicker. If they want to invest the corporate kicker, fine, but leave my personal kicker for me to invest. I earned the money so I should say how to spend it.

  • (Show?)

    Anon and Ben Dover, it's not your money. It's the surplus beyond which the state economist couldn't POSSIBLY have guessed at. It's one of the greatest tax scams being run on gullible voters--like yourselves, apparently--and if you'd like a full debunking, read on.

  • CityHallVet (unverified)

    I agree the Oregonian did us all a service today with a very honest editorial. But unfortunately, it appears their reporter made a rather grievous error in her front page story today. On the jump (pg. A12), Betsy Hammond wrote that the 2007 Legislature:

    Thanks to the growing economy, the Legislature will have more money to spend next session, even after sending out kicker checks, she (Minnis) noted. Kennedy, the senior economist, projects the Legislature will have about 17 percent more money in 2007-09 than in the current budget.

    Having read the economist's revenue report (see excerpt below), the actual increased amount available after the kickers checks go out is really only 1.7%. Just what we need the public to hear, that state government is even fatter and happier than it really is. Ugh!

    From the June Revenue Forecast (http://www.oea.das.state.or.us/DAS/OEA/docs/economic/revenue.pdf):

    "B. Extended Revenue Outlook Table R.2 details the changes in available General Fund resources projected for the 2007-09 biennium, including the impact of anticipated kicker refunds and credits. General Fund revenues will total $12,616.8 million for 2007-09, an increase of 1.7 percent above the current biennium. Including the $1,073.0 million beginning balance carried over from the current biennium, total resources are 7.7 percent above the 2005-07 level. While projected kicker refunds and credits in excess of a billion dollars contribute to minimal growth, the 9.2 percent increase in gross revenues (not including kickers) is below long-run averages. Some of the acceleration in personal income tax collections in the current biennium is due to a temporary spike in capital gains realizations in 2005, which are projected to return to normal levels in 2006 and beyond."

  • Ben Dover (unverified)

    Jeff, it IS my money. I paid it, the state didn't need it and I want it back.

    When public schools and the legislature learn to live within budgets that reflect efficient standards, accountable to the taxpayers, I will endorse giving more revenue to the state. History, during the past 20 years has shown that will never happen.

    And, don't give me that old line that Oregon has to balance its budget every two years. Yes, they do, but they always whine for more money in the next bienium and get it.

  • LT (unverified)

    OK Ben, give us some definitions: When public schools and the legislature learn to live within budgets that reflect efficient standards, accountable to the taxpayers, I will endorse giving more revenue to the state.

    What do you mean by "efficient standards"? Should costs be cut with statewide health insurance for school employees?

    Or do you mean collective bargaining belongs in the private sector, not the public sector?

    I agree pay for management positions deserves the scrutiny long given to unionized positions, but is that what you meant? Why should there be public employees in management positions earning more than the Governor?

    Or would you rather just talk generalities?

  • Ben Datknee (unverified)

    Ben Dover,

    But, the state is not an individual, it has to expand and contract in a much different way than you do. When you say "live with in its means" how do you define that? What "means" are neccessary and appropriate for the state.

    If you have a 5 year old child, it lives within its means and you probably never give it a dime. When it goes to college it probably get a heck of a lot more. What is the consistent policy there? Need?

    In that sense maybe the state should be funded based on needs, not strangled based on some theory that the state is an individual that can simply skip a meal when they are broke, or have Washington state spot them a couple of bucks for dinner.

    When you have to start housing unwanted and abused children, taking care of the elderly, funding your neighborhoods security, educating all children, protecting our natural resources for commerical use and environmental reasons then come to me and I might pitch ya' a dime.

    But, if you get a raise, I want it back.

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)

    Ya know, Jeff. I think you should rewrite your blog entry by stating "-Portland- is one of the most progressive cities in the nation." How else do you explain the voting down of gay marriage and sales taxes and the voting in of M37? There's a huge number of Oregonians who don't prescribe to your 'progressive' values.

    Moreover, every attempt to repeal the kicker has been overwhelmingly opposed.

    Oregon is at the top of the list in tax dollars spent per capita and most Oregonians know it.

  • Ben Dover (unverified)

    Yes, I want to see Oregon Public Employees paying into their Cadillac-Style health insurance program the way we in the private sector have been doing for over a decade.

    When the auditor for PPS resigns because she is not allowed full access to files that allow her to perform her duties, then there is smoke and where there is smoke there surely is fire.

    When $10,000 per student per year is still not enough to provide a good education, something is wrong. And, please, don't give me that BS argument against the Allfunds amount I quoted.

    When state contracts are padded and issued to the same contractors year after year, despite poor performance, there is waste.

    When getaway weekend seminars are not being held in in public buildings, but rather in expensive resorts at the beach and in Bend, I'll be more sympathetic.

    I could go on, but you get the idea. If you want to donate your personal kicker check to a wasteful state beaurocracy, fine. I want to keep mine. I earned it.

  • B (unverified)

    I'm all for sunshine, audits, and oversight, but the way I figure, anti-tax zealots will never be happy. They'll just keep spouting off about waste, efficiency, and accountability until state prisons place a winning bid to take over teaching at the state's K-12 schools.

  • Ben Dover (unverified)

    Want to see some prime examples of waste of our taxes? Click on:


  • B (unverified)

    Good site bend over. Clicking on the links I can see how you got so well informed.

  • Former Salem Staffer (unverified)

    You guys are going to have a hard time convincing most Oregonians that they should happily surrender THEIR money to bureaucrats who make way more money than they do...and have way better benefits. Ben and Chris are right--if I have to live within my means, then so does the government. The state and federal government have both expanded tremendously over the last 40 years in an effort to "solve" all of society's problems. How's that going? Are we all better or worse off now that government is involved in every aspect of our lives? We launched a national war on poverty during the Johnson administration. Here we are, trillions of dollars later...so poverty is irradicated, right? No? You mean, it's worse than ever? Then what happened? Oh yeah...that money went to establish bureacracies that have done nothing but expand and exist for the sake of existing this whole time. If that money went to where it needed to go, poverty wouldn't still be a problem. How is it that other countries spend less per student and still have more to show for it? You guys are incredibly naive if you think that more money is going to solve anything. Efficiency is rewarded in the private sector, but not in government. And if you want a true blue example of this, stop by the Lee Apartments the next time you are in Salem (it's about two blocks away from the Capitol). Take the elevator to the roof, and look around in all directions to see the millions of taxpayer dollars that get sucked out of communities and enter the black hole of bureaucracy, never to return. Then, go out into the rural communities and tell those folks that the money they sweat for isn't theirs, and that the state government needs (yet) more of it. See how well that goes over.

  • PG (unverified)

    Not to be distracted...

    Jeff, is it true that this idea has no chance for movement? Any more info?

    What about the idea of putting both kickers into a rainy day fund? The fiscally responsible folks across the spectrum understand the need for it.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)

    Gov K might not share the voters opinion that the kicker was important enough to enshrine in the Oregon Constitution but he should honor it.

    I’m sure his stock would then rise with fiscally conservative Oregonians, regardless of party affiliation, and serve as a boost to his re-election campaign.

  • Eric (unverified)

    This is not a bright idea with the kicker. If we need money for schools, We should cut in half all the salaries of the administrators and get rid of administrative overhead (like those special perks they get)

  • PG (unverified)

    There is nothing conservative about honoring something that is irresponsible.

    How is it responsible to say that when the economy goes up, we get the difference and when it goes down you are stuck with the loss? It's the same error in thinking that caused problems for the PERS system (Gains during good times, no losses during bad times).

  • (Show?)

    Former staffer

    Where do you want to start? Social security? We used to have a serious elderly poverty problem in this country; we no longer do.

    Federal deposit insurance? We used to have bank runs; we no longer do.

    Rural electrification? The Tennessee Valley Authority? WWII, Korea? The Clean Air and Water Acts?

    The list goes on and on. Your silly rhetoric is just that: silly.

    To Ben: wtf do you mean "within its means." Do you even know what the kicker is? It is based on a best guess estimate two years out of what our revenues will be and what our expenditures will be based on certain assumptions and guesstimates. If we were truly living "within our means," we'd have a balanced budget amendment (we do) and we'd look at the revenues and expenditures each year, like all other 49 states in the Union.

    Only in Oregon do we make the government "kick back" money even when it doesn't have it! That's not "living within it's means", it's simply idiocy.

    But durn! I want that them there kicker! Yesiree! Who cares if our school year is the shortest in the country, our colleges are ranked in the 100s, if we have no fiscal policy.

    Even Alabama does it better than us, no bastion of liberalism there.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)


    You wrote Oregon is at the top of the list in tax dollars spent per capita and most Oregonians know it.

    Your information is wrong. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. I'll assume you're misinformed and not simply a liar.

    If you're interested in actual figures that show per capita spending of states, cities and counties, contact me off-line. I think you'll be disappointed, though. The real data is pretty tedious to wade through but it shows that Oregon is comparatively frugal.

  • Former Salem Staffer (unverified)


    Problems with the PERS system were caused by the fact that members of the PERS board were in the PERS system. The decisions they made benefitted themselves directly. Now the PERS problems are trickling down to local governments and school boards and making it harder for them to balance their budgets. You're right-there is nothing conservative about honoring something that is irresponsible. That's why it makes no sense to reward agencies that waste money with...more money...especially when it's MY MONEY. If you guys are so convinced that the government needs more of your money, then I suggest that you voluntarily donate it, as opposed to being FORCED to hand it over. The story on this site about Lithia Motors is a great example of that. This company DECIDED to DONATE its kicker money to Southern Oregon University. More people would do the same if they had the choice. But Oregonians already pay too much in taxes, and have made it quite clear that they are not willing to pay more. Why is that so hard to understand? So the governor wants to keep more of MY money? I work damn hard for my money, unlike Sleepy Ted, who has NOT earned his salary. I at least show up to work, and shouldn't be punished for doing so. I would rather use MY money to support local businesses and pay MY bills.


    Right on. But don't tell that to the OEA...or the SEIU...or the AFSCME...their position is that administrators should be able to give themselves pay raises whenever they feel like it, regardless of actual performance of duties.

  • truffula (unverified)

    Mr. Dover:

    Yes, I want to see Oregon Public Employees paying into their Cadillac-Style health insurance program the way we in the private sector have been doing for over a decade.

    I want to see the private sector paying into adequate health insurance programs for its employees, the way it used to over a decade ago.

  • Eric (unverified)

    Hey PG, whats wrong with telling the unions about cutting Administrators salaries? Aren't the adninistrators a non-union bunch? I thought the union only represented the teachers - not the Management. Even so, cutting administrators salaries and middle management types would increase the coffers of the schools. Lets Start by cutting Vicki Phillips salary.

  • Eric (unverified)

    Sorry - that was to respond to the Salem Staffer.

  • Former Salem Staffer (unverified)

    Paul- You appear to have missed the point entirely. Are you saying there is no elderly poverty in this country right now? Millions of seniors around the country would tell you otherwise. Clear air and water? Then that would mean that the "environmental crisis" is solved, right? According to OSPIRG, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, etc., it isn't. And if you want to talk about "silly rhetoric," writing in mocking tones and implying that the vast majority of Oregonians who are tired of being taxed...and taxed...and taxed...are somehow rednecks because of it only makes you look ridiculous. It's okay--if you want to make yourself look ridiculous and help me to make my points, then I will not stop you. ...And if our school years are so short, despite the billions we regularly spend on public education, does that not prove that the money is not going where it should? Or should be continue to give cart blanche to school administrators and assume that the money is being spent wisely...despite what test scores and other measures of effectiveness may say. The fact of the matter is this: the socialist experiments of the 60s and 70s have proven to be a tremendous failure. More government didn't solve everything, like people thought it would at the time. The only hope this country has for the future is if we build up ourselves, our families and our communities, and if people start regaining a sense of personal responsiblity. Having the government take care of everybody from cradle to grave hasn't ever worked, and will never work. Go ahead and convince yourself otherwise, but don't expect the working poor of this state to foot the bill for the continued failure(s) of big government.

  • (Show?)

    Gov K might not share the voters opinion that the kicker was important enough to enshrine in the Oregon Constitution but he should honor it.

    And if the voters vote for a six-year hiatus? What then? Will you stand with the will of the voters - or will you keep complaining?

    After all, if we're going to do this, it WILL require a vote of the people.

  • Former Salem Staffer (unverified)


    When was the last time Oregon voters approved a statewide tax increase? I've only been in this state for 12 years, but in that time, I've seen multiple tax measures go down in overwhelming defeat. Letting the state keep the corporate kicker makes sense, and companies don't seem to have a problem with it. But I think the governor is really pushing it by even considering putting a six-year hiatus on individual kickers. This is a tax increase by another name, and voters will recognize, and reject, it as such.

  • Stella (unverified)

    It is clear that the "I want my money back" crowd (Salem Staffer, Ben Dover, Chris McMullin) does not understand what the kicker is.

    For the state to "live within its means," it should spend no more than it taxes. All in favor of this principle, say aye. It's unanimous. Now that we all agree on that point, we should move on to talk about something we disagree on:

    What happens when the state raises more money in taxes than some imperfect economists projected it would raise two years ago? Should the state be bound by the projections of a few bad economists? If you think it should, then you need to explain why. Because I see no reason why an economist's imperfect projections should decide how much money the state gets to spend.

    In the last legislative session, the state tightened its belt -- cutting education and senior services -- based on an INACCURATE PROJECTION. There is absolutely no good reason why the state should be held to this completely artificial standard.

  • LT (unverified)

    Former, about this comment: if I have to live within my means, then so does the government.

    Don't know about you, but people I know are a lot more specific about matching revenue to expenses than the Oregon House was.

    I don't believe there is a single celled organism called "the government" There are 36 counties in this state, a couple hundred school districts, not to mention other jurisdictions. Usually, there are reports in the local newspaper when those jurisdictions make spending decisions (did they fund various services and programs the way they did last year? did a flood or meth or something else require them to deal with unexpected expenses?)

    At the state level, there was a time when budgets were discussed in open committee hearing, and tax cuts treated as expenses, not income.

    But in recent years we had the political games of those like Karen Minnis. She said at one point that there could not be serious budget discussions until the total amount of revenue available was established. But was that the revenue before all proposed tax cuts or afterwards?

    She made a comment at one point "You can't go to the grocery store unless you know how much money you have". True, but her statement sounded like "With $40 in cash, I'll go to the grocery store and decide what to buy when I get there". Many ordinary folks make out a shopping list before they go grocery shopping, read ads, clip coupons.

    I don't think it is the responsibility of the entire government if people in "leadership " positions don't want to discuss details.

    Those of you who think the kicker should be returned should provide us with more than "hands off the kicker". Did you think the 2005 budget process was perfect? Had Ways and Means stayed a joint committee and held all their hearings in public, would that have been better? If keeping the kicker status quo requires budget cuts, what specifically do you advocate cutting--and do you have legislative support for those cuts? If you are a Measure 37 advocate, just how do you expect compensation to be paid? Someone I know who was a lifelong Republican before registering Independent said today that Saxton can forget about her vote--his crack about Kulongoski's kicker proposal was all she needed to hear to know she won't be voting for him. Now I know there are those who don't believe anyone thinks that way, but are you willing to gamble the 2006 election on the idea that a majority of Oregon voters don't even want a serious discussion of the kicker?

    Even Karen Minnis has suggested putting the fate of the kicker up to voters--and any ballot measure would involve public discussion. Do you oppose that because no one should even be discussing any change to the almighty kicker?

    Or are those questions too tough for the soundbite crowd?

  • LT (unverified)

    Stella is right. Who among the "keep the kicker intact" crowd is willing today to predict their income in 2008, and pay a penalty if that prediction is wrong?

    If someone wants to run for office saying "Oregon should be proud to be the only state in the union with a kicker, so let's keep it like it is", that would be honest. That candidate's opponent could debate that. And the voters would know where the candidates stand.

    But what if the anti-kicker challenger won. Would the voters have "spoken"?

  • Karl (unverified)

    It just occurred to me that with voters like Ben Dover, Staffer, McMullen that there isn't a lot of hope for reforming Oregon's budget. Why is the kicker "yours" any more than any "excess" taxes I paid as being mine? I don't use the University system here or the public school system, I don't drive my car east of the Cascade locks. All that money then should be returned to me. Oh wait a minute. I live in a civil society and there are issues such as the "greater good". I'm willing to give up my share of the kicker if it means that the schools would be better funded, that we have more state troopers, and that old people and kids don't starve.

  • red (unverified)

    Dear Governor Kulongoski,

    Thank you so much for handing this election to Republicans on a silver platter. We appreciate your thoughtfulness in giving us more ammunition to further the message that Democrats are tax and spenders who want more and more of the voters' money.

    We really do appreciate it. Here's to a Republican-controlled government and your new house (since you'll be moving out of Mahonia Hall).


  • LT (unverified)

    Red, Have you really talked to people outside your political circle who think the ol' "tax and spend" rhetoric can make up for lack of state troopers and lack of details in debate?

    My guess is Westlund is more likely to be Gov. than Saxton---because people are hungry for details, not Saxton sound bites.

  • (Show?)

    Here's the really, really, really weird one folks....

    The personal income tax kicker is the under-estimation of personal income taxes. This year, a big part of that lowball estimate is that Phil Knight - all by himself - sold something like a billion dollars in stock, generating about a $100 million in capital gains taxes.

    Now, there's no way that the state economist would be able to "estimate" whether or not Phil Knight was or was not going to sell this year, or next, or ten years from now, or anything. It's a personal decision made by one very rich guy.

    Would someone please explain to me why it's good public policy to then turn around and take that money and send it out to 3.5 million Oregonians? And send them all the message that we didn't need their money after all?

    Will Oregonians subconsciously start to expect to fund social services, jails, and schools on the whims of billionaires?

  • LT (unverified)

    As much as there are some people here who want to debate generalities ("the kicker is our money" or "rally around Ted now he has won the primary") the world is more complex than that.

    And there are still those folks who were excited about Ted running in 2002 who have not been impressed with his actions as Gov.

    So today when I got an email from one such person (has known Ted for decades, had been an active Democrat but got fed up), I thought I should share it.

    "Yes, even I was impressed on how Ted came out of the box swinging on the question of the kicker...then his staff starts equivocating for him in today's press..he needs a campaign staff with guts!"

    It is not just the candidate whose words and actions change minds during a campaign. As much as some don't like to admit this, I've known campaigns to win or lose votes based solely on the behavior of campaign staff.

  • (Show?)

    Former Staffer,

    I am mocking because you are purposely ignorant and/or misleading. You toss around meaningless rhetoric like "socialist experiments". You asked for examples of successful programs, and I gave them to you. Now you move the goalposts, requiring that programs actually eliminate some problem, not ameliorate one, in order to be called a success.

    I did not say there is no elderly poverty today. I said Social Security was a success in reducing elderly poverty levels well below what they were prior to its existence. Simple question: did Social Security reduce poverty or not?

    Your comments about Ospirg and Sierra Club are similar red herrings. Are or are not our air and water cleaner today than they would have been without the clean air and water acts? Simple question: did the Clean Air and Water Acts reduce pollution or not?

    There are many examples of successful government programs. There are also examples of failures. Some of us try to learn from the successes and the failures. Some close their eyes. Which group are in you?

  • lin (unverified)

    Loved the way that Kulongoski's spokeswoman immediately retracted his off-the-cuff remark about the kicker. Geez Louise, Ted, you finally engaged your frontal lobes for the first time as governor, and then lost no time denying you'd ever done so.

    Looks even more certain that I'm going to write in my cat for governor (again) in November.

  • (Show?)

    yes, disappointing to see Ted's people backtrack for him.

    I cannot figure out the bizarre rationale in calling the excess revenue "our money," or using it a "tax increase."

    I don't know if you people pushing those ideas know this or not, but tax is levied as a RATE, not a flat fee. Therefore, the amount of tax you pay is based on the income you receive that year.

    Let's assume straight off that you find the PRINCIPLE of taxation legitimate, and that you accept the current rates of individual taxation to be democratically enacted, at minimum. (You may think they are too high, but accept that they are legally binding, yes?)

    So if it's legit to tax income, then the only question is how much the state gets. And how much they get is entirely dependent on the amount of income generated.

    So let's say you estimate you'll make 10 grand this year, and pay a hypothetical calculated tax of $750. But hey--you won another 10 grand playing Lotto, and now your tax is $1750. By the "it's my money" analysis, this extra $1000 is somehow legitimately yours--despite your agreement that it is in fact income subject to agreed upon tax rates.

    Now let's flip that logic. Say you suffer a business loss, and your tax actually turns out to be $300. I assume you'll send that $450 to the government right away, right? Because $750 was your estimate, and since government is supposed to realize its estimate and nothing more or less, that's OUR money, right?

    As for calling it a tax increase, do you lambast the government for charging you a tax increase every time you pay gas? Would you say the legislature has raised your taxes when you buy a new house and your real estate tax is higher? Do you watch the clock at work and moan with each minute's click, "The government just raised my taxes!"? I doubt it.

  • Marvin McConoughey (unverified)

    "So if it's legit to tax income, then the only question is how much the state gets." Would it not be allowable to also question who pays the tax, and at what personal and corporate percentages? Another question might be, Who do we allow to not pay any tax on revenues? Still another query might be, how much revenue is required to provide public services? Which public services are essential? To what degree?

    What are our cutback priorities in time of recession, or worse? Can we reclaim some of our hard-times public expenditures from some the beneficiaries when their finances improve? As citizens, we might ask who is entitled to decide the answers to these and other questions. An inquiring mind could wonder, what is the optimal mix of public and private spending? What criteria do we use? If we provide far higher revenues to government in good times can we trust it to retain a sufficient amount to offset future bad times. How would they know? Is there a danger that a kicker elimination would lead to unsustainable patterns of high government spending in good times that would worsen, not alleviate, recessions? Given the historically proven inability of state economic forecasters to accurately predict future state tax revenue, why would we trust state government to forecast the breadth and depth of a recession? Not even economists have been able to consistently gauge recessions, except after the fact.

    The state might benefit from a very comprehensive non-political examination of the 376 pages of authorized tax expenditures. The examination could be done by a bipartisan appointed outside panel of experts analogous to the base closing panels used by congress to diminish the intensity of politics. Having done that and implemented the panel recommendations, state and local governments might find themselves with a surplus of revenue.

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