The Governor's Budget: Glossing Over the Pain

Steve Novick

You can make an intellectual case for the Governor's budget. You can't make a case for the way he presented it.

Let me make it clear that I like the Governor. He's a nice guy who's always been very kind and respectful to me personally. And I applaud his near-obsession with global warming; we may disagree on details, but his commitment on that issue is dead-on.

What's disturbing to me about the Governor's budget is that he refused to acknowledge the cuts he is making. For the most part, the Governor was all happy talk, proudly explaining the wonderful things he says his budget will do. Although he had a generic sentence or two like "It [the budget] makes choices for what state government does and how we do it. And those choices are going to impact the lives of real people. I know that," he did not, in his press release or his speech, explain a single specific cut. No mention of the 100,000 Oregonians who will lose vision and dental coverage. No mention of the thousands of poor families who will lose child care subsidies. No mention of the thousands of seniors who will lose in-home care. If you were only listening to the Governor, you would get the impression that all of our important 'priorities' were being funded; that heck, when the economy recovers, we should give everyone a big tax cut, because after all, the State's already paying for everything that matters. Yes, I know that's not what he said. But when you don't think a single cut is worth mentioning, isn't that the impression you'll probably give a lot of people?

And because the Governor doesn't acknowledge that we're cutting anything important, there's not even a whisper of the possibility that we might take some temporary revenue-raising steps to help the vulnerable. (The Governor's proposed taxes, as far as I can tell, are permanent measures to expand programs, rather than efforts to make up for cuts in the services we have.) Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing a temporary tax increase. In 1982, Vic Atiyeh passed a temporary tax increase. For our Governor, it's off the table.

I am well aware that in the last recession, the voters twice rejected a temporary income tax surcharge. I am also aware that the first effort, Measure 28, came much closer than anyone imagined it would. And Measure 28 was a fairly broad tax on a broad range of people. You could raise a significant amount of money (although you would NOT close the whole gap) by, for instance, creating a temporary 10% (as opposed to 9%) rate on people with taxable incomes of over $100,000. (Remember, taxable income is a good deal less than wage or salary income; it's income after deductions. And the extra 1% would not apply to people's entire incomes - just the amount over $100,000.) Now, I realize that Oregon already has one of the most progressive tax systems in the country, and as a permanent measure, even I would worry about Oregon being too out of line with the rest of the country in terms of taxing the relatively well-to-do. But not to even consider, as a short-term measure, asking the least vulnerable to help the most vulnerable? Is that really the kind of State we want to be? I would add that economists say that in terms of impact on economic activity ('stimulus' or de-stimulus), taxes on the well-to-do are least dangerous in the recession, because those are the folks least likely to spend all their money.

Three and a half years ago, when I worked for the Citizens for Oregon's Future, I developed a classroom exercise on 'balancing the state budget' that six high school teachers used in their social studies classes. At the time, the Legislature had started the session with an $800 million budget shortfall. The students examined a wide range of options for cutting the budget or raising revenue, and, broken into groups of three and four, they presented their plans. The students came from towns ranging from conservative Creswell to liberal Portland. I don't think a single group balanced its budget only by making cuts. Why not at least try to have that conversation? Explain the cuts, and outline some alternatives?

Senate President Peter Courtney was blunt. "We are going to put out in the streets children or seniors or people with disabilities," he said. Courtney can be a bit dramatic, but I much prefer his dramatic bluntness to the Governor's happy talk.

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    Glad to see you back on BlueOregon! With regard to the budget, I can only hope that some of the "priorities" get hammered out more thoroughly in the legislature so that the pain of those in need will not be so great....

  • SCB (unverified)

    The State budget will not really be written until the Legislature gets the final revenue forecast next May.

    Until then ... its all a bunch of paper and hot air.

    I think everyone, including the Governor, knows that the news next May will not be good, the only question being, "how bad?"

    So, it's rather pointless to talk about all the cuts, when there will be cuts on top of cuts.

    Now the Governor could have been all doom and gloom about that, but he went upbeat. Can't blame him for being upbeat. This is the same Governor that has to attempt to convince people that Oregon is a good place to invest for new business.

    So, Novick - why take issue with an announcement? If you really want to take issue with anything, best start working on protecting your favorite programs in the budget, because what happens next, once the session starts, is that everyone with turf to defend will start attacking someone else's turf.

    This next legislative session is going to be a blood bath, similar to 1981.

  • Terry Olson (unverified)

    "...Oregon already has one of the most progressive tax systems in the country... ."

    That's only true, Steve, in that Oregon relies heavily on the income tax and has no sales tax.

    According to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, Oregon's income tax is less progressive than it may seem. In other words, it hits the near poor and the working poor harder than the income tax in most other states.

    When you combine state and local taxes, the picture changes dramatically. Again according to the OCPP, the poor pay a greater percentage of their incomes in overall taxes than the wealthy. That's not a progressive tax system.

    I agree that Kulongoski should consider tax increases on the wealthy rather than merely cutting state services.

  • Frank (unverified)

    Oregon is one of the top 3 states in the nation in hunger.

    Bankers get trillions in greenbacks while the poor in Oregon get told to please starve in a more environmentally-responsible manner.

    If Kulongoski doesn't want to finally implement a more progressibe state income tax tax structure to make the rich pay for the damage they have caused to Oregon, then the hungry, dirt-poor Oregonians need to start thinking about eating Kulongoski.

  • billy (unverified)

    No mention of the 100,000 Oregonians who will lose vision and dental coverage. No mention of the thousands of poor families who will lose child care subsidies.

    Where do I sign up for these - I never got them from the gov or employer? Is this a free service for Oregonians?

  • anon123 (unverified)

    Click the link below to read the details:

    These are the cuts

    Some highlights--- a handful that adds to $432.2 million in cuts primarily to elderly, disabled, and mentally ill Oregonians:

    Reduce Family Planning Expansion Program (FPEP) Cuts birth control for low income women, including teens. Reduces resources available to local providers, mainly county health departments. $22 million cut

    Diversion/Transition of Nursing Facility (NF) Clients- $10.5million cut

    Child Safety - Eliminate Supported Remedial Daycare (SRDC). This service is a part of the Child Safety program for children who enter the system due to child abuse or neglect. SRDC is day care available to parents or foster care providers of these children and is intended to help prevent the placement of the child into substitute care, facilitate the child's return to a parent, assist the parent or caregiver in meeting a child's special needs, allow the parent to participate in case plan activities, maintain a child's placement that may be in jeopardy due to caregiver illness, or assist in stabilizing a placement. There were a total of 1,580 children from 786 cases who received SRDC services in FFY 2007. $4.4 million cut

    Reduce by 90% Adult Outpatient Mental Health Services $28.4 million cut

    Reduce GF from the Alcohol & Drug continuum of care - This reduction cuts $18.5 million (50%) of the funding for alcohol and drug treatment services for 11,850 people who are not eligible for Medicaid.

    In-Home Care Program- Eliminate Home Care Worker provided In- Home services for clients if the clients receive less than 80 hours per month (effective October 1, 2009). About 6,590 clients would lose access to In-home HCW services. Of those, about 60% of these clients, or 4,000, will require and be eligible for up to 20 hours of Personal Care services each month; others will likely be re-assessed and found eligible for other long-term care services such as Assisted Living Facilities. The remaining 2,504 will lose access to long-term care services. Of those, about 1,700 will also lose their medical coverage under the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). The latter is shown in the reductions in OHP. Div. Medical Assistance section. $62.5 million cut

    Lower income standard to reduce number of people in care by applying for Congressional approved "i" waivers under the Social Security Act- DHS proposes to move from the use of "c" waiver to the new Medicaid State Plan option "i" waiver. Income eligibility would decrease from 300% of SSI ($1991) to 200% of SSI ($1300). Of the current 28,000 individuals currently served, about 4,000 exceed the 200% of SSI requirement and would lose both their long term care and eligibility for the Oregon Health Plan (the latter can be found in the OHP/Div. of Medical Assistance Programs section). $264 million cut

    Reduction of DD Brokerage Support Services - One of the final program requirements of the Staley Re-Settlement Agreement requires the DD program to provide services within 90 days (eliminating wait list). This would reduce the funding budgeted for this purpose which may delay reaching this requirement. $12.9 million cut

  • Jenny (unverified)

    One does not find where illegal immigrants, and their costs to the health care system, are mentioned. Were the number of illegal immigrants folded in with the final tally of the “unisured”?

    Who are the unisured?

  • anon123 (unverified)

    $432.2 million only reflects the cuts mentioned above.

    Total cuts to real services in this budget are

    $1.4 BILLION

    Just about half of that directly hits seniors and disabled

  • rw (unverified)

    Anybody got good links to the taxation upon Intel, Nike, Yahoo? Can anyone tell me if THEY are paying anythinhg close to a conscionable share if not their so-called, mythical, fair share?

    Thank you for sharing. I think I have to stay away from this, as my gut is twisting in angst.

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    Update: Looking at the DHS web site, it seems that the Gov's increased taxes for OHP expansion MIGHT, in some cases, make up for the DHS cuts because some of the people who lose services from one source might now get them under OHP. (The document itself uses those words - "some might.") I don't feel too bad having said that apparently the new taxes wouldn't make up for the service cuts, though, because you couldn't have gotten that info just from listening to the Gov.

  • LT (unverified)

    SCB--whatever anyone thinks of the 1981 situation, it was run by grownups more interested in solving problems than in playing political games.

    As opposed to the turn of the century Measure 28 side show with the "mystery money" nonsense.

    Never forget that there was no alternative bill ever written to contrast with the balanced budget bill which was refered by the out of state crowd and became Measure 30. Real people were adversely affected by those budget cuts. And there are people who were financially secure then and aren't now. Are they really going to care about the "don't let them raise your taxes" mantra?

    To my mind, it would be intelligent to question those who just throw out slogans like "tax and spend" or "spending discipline" and ask when we can read their alternative proposal.

    There was a Republican pollster on CSPAN today talking about something similar. She was talking about the "opportunity cost" of the Ayers attacks---every minute spent on those didn't address the concerns of ordinary folks who wanted to hear solutions to problems, not the same old attacks.

    Are the Republicans intellectually able to come up with an alternative? Will they want to cut human services spending to pay for retaining tax cuts? Didn't I hear there is a presession filed bill to create a task force to study whether Oregonians are getting value for the money spent on tax expenditures?

    One thing the Republican pollster said was about a major Republican mistake of the last 8 years---they have been lazy and not out to recruit new customers, and thus a lot of people supported Obama.

    It is time to call the Republican's bluff. Are they really intellectually lazy? Do they think after the last 2 elections that ideology wins over voters? Given the generation which has grown up since "the voters spoke" on Measure 5, do they want to tell those young people "you have no right to an opinion on an issue decided by voters when you were too young to be aware of politics"?

    One way to startle some people into actually thinking beyond slogans is to say "If you Republicans want a serious Gov. campaign in 2010 instead of what you have had recently, now is the time to start talking about alternative proposals and not just bashing those you disagree with".

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    When cuts are made to in-home assistance to seniors or dental care for kids and the poor, they actually end up costing more money to state budgets. The lack of in-home care to seniors results in crises which result in premature and very expensive placement in nursing care. The lack of dental care results in health crises and trips to the emergency room. When birth control/family planning isn't available to poor women, unwanted and untimely pregnancies happen resulting in health crises, unwanted pregnancies, unnecessary abortions, and more children dependent on public serices. It isn't only compassion and humanity involved here, it's also public dollars.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    90% cut in outpatient Mental Health Services for Adults?? Oh, the outrage when mentally ill are roaming the streets without care, gunned down or locked up in jails! Well, so much for community care for the mentally ill!! Expect to see the hospitalization rate climb explode, and the critical incidents in communities explode, and the jails fill up with the mentally ill and turn into psych wards. We'll be building more prisons to house the mentally ill so we can cut outpatient mental health services. That makes a whole lot of sense.

  • rw (unverified)

    Time for Kulongoski to GO. Is this the best you can DO?

  • Frank (unverified)

    Here's the future for Oregon Kulongoski envisions...

    "Deputy uses Taser on 'bipolar man' in Clackamas Town Center

    By KGW Staff

    CLACKAMAS, Ore. -- A man was tased inside the Clackamas Town Center packed with holiday shoppers late Tuesday morning, police said.

    Detective Jim Strovink, with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, said a “bipolar man” was riding in a car with his with dad when he jumped out of the moving car near the mall.

    Witnesses told KGW the man started pounding on windows and hitting cars in the parking lot with his hands. Then, he ran into the Clackamas Town Center where Strovink said he “engaged with” a deputy who ended up tasing him to get him under control...."

    Why pay for both outpatient mental health care and tasers when you only have to pay for tasers, right Gov. Kulongoski?

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    Steve, do you have a good idea of how much additional revenue your idea would generate?

  • joshuawelch (unverified)

    The wealthy and well-connected have had it to good for too long. It's time that they pay their fair share. We should demand an aggressive tax increase for the wealthy and corporations from the Governor and our legislature. We should tack a dollar on every pack of cigarettes and every gallon of gas. Bush wasn't the worst President ever because he used his power, it's how he used it. Dems need to use their power when they have it and cooperate when they don't. How about a sales tax on pretty much everything except food, prescription drugs, healthcare? I wish the Governor would have talked more about the cutbacks. Oregonians deserve a little "straight talk."

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    Nice to hear your incisive comments again.

    I was in a conversation with one of our House chairman today who said,"why spend any time analyzing the Governor's budget, because it is irrelevent," meaning dead on arrrival. That said I value your point that we need to be talking about who gets hurt with these cuts and how to protect the most vulnerable in our society. The Governor seems to be trying to make some big impact proposals that will have long term visibility, but is not willing to deal with the price the disadvantaged will pay.

    I would also value your thoughts on whether we could get your 1% proposal without triggering a ballot measure. It might still be worth fighting for. It probably means an increase of $2,000 on someone making $250k per year. Shouldn't get much sympathy by most people, especially if it was limited to two years.

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    I would vote against any temporary surcharge or increase in the income tax, because what we really need is comprehensive tax reform. A temporary tweak will only lessen the pressure and perceived need to reform the tax code.

    If we don't reform the tax code this session, we won't get another chance for another decade or two. This election is a high water mark for Dems in the legislature and Congress, and if you think Dems won't lose seats in 2010 no matter what they do, even in a best case scenario, you are delusional.

    The Oregon income tax hits too many low income people and doesn't hit the rich enough. At minimum it needs to be more progressive. Ideally it should be reformed in conjunction with a sales tax.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Posted by: rw | Dec 2, 2008 5:47:42 PM

    Anybody got good links to the taxation upon Intel, Nike, Yahoo? Can anyone tell me if THEY are paying anythinhg close to a conscionable share if not their so-called, mythical, fair share?

    Thank you for sharing. I think I have to stay away from this, as my gut is twisting in angst

    You might find direct stats, but what about all the hidden costs? Nike or Intel gets a tax break from the city of Beaverton, then they don't have enough tax revenue to police the light rail, so Metro picks up the slack and bills Salem from our taxes, etc. It isn't a discussion anyway. Their only rhetoric is that if there're any taxes, they'll move and slap the economy. That's not dialog, it's abuse. I think before you can tax them you have to end the abuse, which, given the current economic clime ain't likely.

  • Kari chisholm (unverified)

    RW-- You say "is that the best you can do?" as if the alternative is obvious. While I won't ask you for your own state budget, it seems fair to ask for at least one good alternative idea.

    Keep in mind that your suggestion must be revenue neutral (or save money), be able to get a majority vote, and survive/avoid a referendum vote.

    So, what do ya got?

  • billy (unverified)

    re: Nike or Intel gets a tax break from the city of Beaverton, then they don't have enough tax revenue to police the light rail, so Metro picks up the slack and bills Salem from our taxes, etc.

    Another good reason to NOT HAVE BUILD LIGHT RAIL.

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    When you're in a situation like Oregon is, you're forced to make a list of priorities, and that always means there will be losers. Since writing my own post on the subject yesterday, I've come to think that Ted missed an opportunity here: this is one of those rare moments when we could totally rework our revenue structure. The problem is that in the current structure, we're pitting critical constituencies against one another: should we cut support to the poor and uninsured or to schools? The problem is that the current system forces us to prioritize among groups that shouldn't be on the chopping block at all. The only way to game this system is to change it.

    I know there are legislators already thinking this way, so perhaps they'll seize the moment. But Ted, whose pulpit is the most bully, could have used his proposal to radically change how we think about raising and spending revenue.

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    I agree with a common theme I've picked up on. The D's technically have enough votes to pass revenue increases. If they don't excercise this power, of course it will be harder to keep seats in two years. Even though Paul Wellstone's liberal views were not supported by all Minnesotans, they knew where he stood and what he was fighting for. That is a bridge our new legislators should build by focusing on comprehensive tax reform. The zero sum game we play is tired, and frustrating. Oregonians voted for CHANGE. Pussy footing and incrementalism is not the type of change we can believe in anymore. Kari asked for some specifics. Here's my vision. One, the legislature establishes the types and scope of services Oregonians deserve using performance management and measurment. Second, they establish how much it will cost to fully implement. Third, they match our tax structure to pay for it. We've got the tail wagging the dog here. Damn the referenda threats, damn the revenue nuetral rhetoric (Kari, not a personal dig, I have nothing but the utmost respect for you), and of course you'll need all 36 D's to vote for it. If the R's don't, they're the outsiders. If D's wont, who will phone bank for them, who will canvass for them, who will donate money? Steve Novick is correct in that it is time we have some straight talk. I learned something very valuable back when I was 19. One of my best friends told me, "You don't go into a fight expecting not to get hit." I'm ready to fight for change here in Oregon, and ready to take the lumps that come with it. BTW, this is a really great conversation.

  • Miles (unverified)

    Kari writes: Keep in mind that your suggestion must be revenue neutral (or save money), be able to get a majority vote, and survive/avoid a referendum vote.

    You're thinking like a weak legislator (which is generally all we get in Oregon). The purpose of elected leadership is not just to come up with ideas that will survive in the status quo environment; it is to lead the people to a better status quo. Whether an income tax surcharge on those above $100k would survive today isn't the point. If that's where the state should go, it's up to Kulongoski (and Courtney and Hunt and every other legislator) to put their jobs on the line making that case.

    Kulongoski has been a status quo governor. He kicked 100,000 people off of OHP -- adding 100,000 to the rolls of uninsured -- because he "had no choice." He froze salaries of all state workers for his first three years -- eviscerating state government for at least a decade by pushing the best and brightest into other employment -- because he "had to balance the budget." In both cases, the Governor failed to use his leadership to even try to move the state in a more progressive direction. You say that his options are limited, but that's only if you fail to understand the role of our elected leaders.

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    John C. -- According to an LRO estimate in '07, a 10% rate for taxable incomes over $100,000 would get you $200 million a year. I'd imagine it'd be lower during a recession. But still significant.

  • Ron Morgan (unverified)

    "The problem is that in the current structure, we're pitting critical constituencies against one another: should we cut support to the poor and uninsured or to schools?"

    T'was ever thus. What's needed is for these critical constituencies to be proactive and form an overarching coalition so that they can present a common front, a human services network. The current dynamic wherein groups fight over smaller and smaller slices of the pie serves the political interests of the leggos and the guv, they can shrug and say that things are tough all over in pseudo-Solomonic rectitude while pitting one groups against another.

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    On corporate taxes, one idea Nesbitt used to float was raising the corporate tax rate on profits to 9%, same as the personal income tax. I don't think that's a big-enough idea for overall corporate tax reform, so I am not at all sure I'd want that to be a permanent idea, but last I heard it would raise over $200 million a biennium. Again, that's a tax on corporate PROFITS only, so you could say "Even in a bad economy, some people and corporations are still doing well." And raise maybe $600 million between the over-$100,000 surcharge and corporate tax equalization. Again, Tim Nesbitt was a big champion of that idea in the past, so I'm sure he could get the Governor to support it. I think it's better than 'corporate minimum' which (to my mind at least) sounds more like a real corporate tax 'reform' when we need something more far-reaching, in my view.

  • conspiracyzach (unverified)

    The NIKE and friends taxes question is a media problem ultimately. If reporters could inform the public and question the governor in a competent way on those issues we would not have a public policy trainwreck like we do. First question is for Ted Kulongoski: What policy trade offs did NIKEs people request from you when they gave you 187,000 dollars in November of 2006? Answer: They wanted sustainability. Follow up question: What the hell does that mean?

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)

    "billy" said "Another good reason to NOT HAVE BUILD LIGHT RAIL."

    I think for billy's sake, perhaps he's right ... the money from MAX should have gone to his school district.

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    Steve, your first comment suggested that it would raise $200 million per year. Your second comment suggested that it would raise $200 million per biennium. Which is it.

    Also, John's question was whether you think that the legislature could pass the temporary increase without fighting a referendum battle. My question was how much money will this raise.

    The answer to John's question is, I doubt it. But it would probably be a fight worth having, with one side advocating for seniors and people with disabilities, and the other side advocating for the wealthiest 5 percent of Oregonians.

    However, whether the amount is $200 million or $400 million, this proposal does not get Oregon to the $1.1 billion needed to maintain the current level of services.

    As to the folks who are piling on the governor...

    There will be hard choices in any budget during a downturn. The hard choice that we are currently facing is that because of our aging population and increased costs for health care, DHS is needing a 24 percent increase in this biennium to maintain its current level of services.

    The governor appears to have decided that this is not sustainable -- and though the real human need is not lost on me, he has a point.

    So maybe part of the answer to avoid a complete bloodletting at DHS is that the legislature adopt Mr Novick's proposal. But we need to remember that even if this idea moves in the legislature, and a referendum battle is won, it still only gets you 20 to 40 percent of the way to maintaining the current level of services based on the numbers people are discussing publicly.

    My question is, how do you get the rest of the way and still do the things that Oregon needs to in order to get our state's economy moving again?

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    To clarify: I was talking about two separate things, and I used year for one, biennium for another. It's $400 million a biennium from the income tax surcharge - $200 million a year; $200 million a biennium from the corporate tax equalization. Total of $600. Yes, that would leave us with some cuts, no question. I think you'd have a shot at winning referendum battles if there were any. I also think implementing some of the Health Fund Board recommendations will help get control over health care costs systemwide, over time.

  • Miles (unverified)

    As to the folks who are piling on the governor...

    I would be more sympathetic to the Governor if he had made any effort in this regard whatsoever. I'm aware of the painful cuts that will be necessary in any downturn, particularly this one. But Kulongoski hasn't even tried to be progressive when it comes to state services. People who argue that he has no choice because tax increases would be referred and rejected are missing the point. The body politic is not immovable, and in fact I would argue that thousands of Oregonians would be inspired by a leader who endeavored to move them.

  • Rose Wilde (unverified)

    I found myself wondering about the political game Ted K is playing. He puts forward a budget that forces the people of Oregon to face serious cuts to the most vulnerable people in our community. Will they then contact their legislators and demand they pass a tax increase? Or will they say, forget green development for now, let's focus on immediate needs?

    And then, I couldn't help but notice he went to the Governor's Conference with Obama the very next day. Obama goes on the news with promises of federal rescue, maybe, with the possibility of increased investment in basic human needs (food stamps, unemployment, etc.)

    So, yes Ted K's budget is just the first word in a long budget debate (and discussion). Why do you think he chose the cuts (and investments) that he did.

    FYI -- Head Start was a big winner (so far). Increased funding & and proposal to fund Early Head Start, too.

    And last, nothing in this budget addresses the immediate budget crisis -- state agencies are in the hole for the remainder of the biennium (through June 2009). What will the e-board do about that? More on it this week.

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    Make up the remaining $500 million with a temporary sales tax. We can not keep balancing the budget by asking the vulnerable to become more so. Implement the sales tax in the second year of the biennium and get a $100 million general revenue bond to fund the first year of the biennium. Make a commitment for real civic engagement and capacity building opportunities by empaneling the legislature full-time for the next two years. State reserves should be able to cover that. Over the next two years, the legislature would hammer out a more vibrant compact with the people of Oregon.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)

    Now is the perfect time to tackle a tax reform package that will be triggered after the economy recovers.

    People seem to largely agree that good reform would be progressive, put $$ away during good times and tap that during the slow times. Great reform could even cut taxes during bad times, if enough money were socked away during the good.

    Problem with trying reform during good times is the Rep's (and most voters) just want a tax refund, and certainly some Dem's want to use it to expand programs. So nothing gets done.

    If we tackled this now, in light of people losing critical services it would be very difficult for the R's to argue that its a bad idea to save for tough times. They'd embarass themselves. Particularly if the reform would include a provision that provided for tax cuts during recessions if there were enough in the rainy day fund.

  • Ron Buel (unverified)

    Novick is right about the Governor, and the absence of discussion of negative impacts on social services in his budget in what are becoming very difficult times.

    But straight talk from Novick means he starts being straight with us about who has the real power in the budget discussions, and I'm not talking about the Governor or legislative leaders. Novick is tightly tied in with those powerful folks. It's like his being against campaign finance reform or the open primary. Who was he really serving? When you read Novick, you have to read the second and third levels of who he really supports and serves, who has the power, and what are their interests, and how those interests join with what he has to say.

    It's easy to be against cuts for those receiving social services in our State. It's easy to "stand up for the working guy." It's easy to stand against Sizemore, Wendt and Parks.

    Who belongs to the Revenue Coalition Steve? What are their interests? How do they quietly and consistently achieve their ends in the budget process? Aren't they the major contributors to the progressive statewide and legislative candidates? Steve: How do you relate to them and to the consultants who run their major campaigns with big out-of-state money?
    That would be straight talk about the real zero sum game of the State budget, who has the power, and how the power game gets played today. Why real change doesn't happen in our revenue system or our budget priorities despite four "progressive" Governors in a row. Steve knows the answers. How about some straight talk about POWER from Steve Novick.

  • LT (unverified)

    Ron is right. There has to be more to this discussion than the anti-taxer team vs. the team of unions et al.

    What exactly was Citizens for Oregon's Future, Steve?

    What's this Revenue Coalition Ron talks about?

    Has there been any outreach to Republicans? Two who come to mind are St. Senators

    1)Jackie Winters who stood up to the "cut it all" types in her own party the year the Senate was 15-15, and who let Minnis and the House know that the Senate did not take orders from the House

    2) Frank Morse who put together a presentation he called "hopeful tax reform" and who sponsored kicker reform SJR 2 A which passed the Senate by 21 votes.

    Another question I have been asking for some time is if we can finally go back to the days when budget decisions were made in openly advertised public Ways and Means Committee hearings and work sessions because Minnis or someone else insisted on it.

    Whatever anyone says about the 1981 difficult decisions, at least they were made in public.

    And yes, Ron, I supported Measure 65--I think it would have made the system better. That's because I trust people I have known for decades named Phil and Norma more than I trust consultants who seem to think they have all the answers.

    I supported Measure 9 campaign finance reform although it had some problems, but I reserve the right to read proposals before giving blanket support to anything with a particular label on it.

    Sometimes I wonder if consultants really want the votes of people who think for themselves.

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    Ron - believe it or not, I just reacted as a private citizen to the Governor's budget without consulting anybody powerful at all. I think you vastly exaggerate the power of the Revenue Coalition. And, as the PERS story in '03 proved, big contributors can't always count on the people they help elect to behave as they would like them to. The fact is that the people with the votes have real, actual power. Citizens for Oregon's Future did public education (in the broad sense) on tax and budget issues. Real change HAS happened in our 'budget priorities' in the sense that in the wake of 47 and 50, the State has had to spend more money on K-12 education to replace lost property tax dollars. Oh, and Mannix's Measure 11 - and now Measure 57 - have forced change. None of the 'power players' I think you have in mind wanted either of those things; they couldn't stop it. I think the primary reason revenue reform hasn't happened is that pollsters keep telling both the political leaders and your 'power players' that it wouldn't go anywhere, and people are scared to take risks, especially when they're constantly spending their energy and resources fighting Sizemore.

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    Sizemore's in jail, or was. Mannix would pick up the standard or is. Yes, there will be referenda. Make them have to repel legislation that ties funding directly to programs instead of departments. I believe Oregonians can do this and find an alternative route around this revenue reform log jam in Salem.

  • LT (unverified)

    Pat, I agree with you.

    "believe Oregonians can do this and find an alternative route around this revenue reform log jam in Salem. "

    There are people of good will in both parties. There are new people in several positions (House leadership, House and Senate W & M chairs, etc.).

    If all those bright people just throw up their hands and give us the "that's the way it is, nothing anyone can do about it" garbage---esp. with the new members starting this year with no memory of the dictatorial Minnis and Scott, I say throw out the lot and give us a whole new batch of legislators.

    I am SO tired of hearing nothing can change. This had better be the year we hear intelligent debates on budget and tax issues IN PUBLIC, or else someone showing us where the tax code, the kicker, etc. are carved in the capitol marble.

  • Jody Wiser (unverified)

    Steve is absolutely right that we need temporary measures to raise revenue. We’re losing private industry jobs. It makes no sense to worsen Oregon’s recession by shedding public jobs as well. And those human service dollars the Governor cuts keep Oregon from collecting federal dollars as well.

    A higher tax rate of tax for income above some benchmark for individuals, and an equal rate structure for corporations works to my mind.

    We can also stop funding wind farms at $11 million a pop – they’ll locate in Oregon anyway as we have wind and share requirements with our neighbors that a certain percentage of power must come from renewable energy sources. It’s that policy (the Renewable Portfolio Standard), not our Business Energy Tax Credits (BETC) that is getting those wind farms built. We’re set up to throw well over $100 million at wind farms over the next few years, while we throw disabled and seniors to the wolves.

    And we do have a rainy day fund or two. It seems to be raining.

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    Thanks for the post, Steve.

    Ron Buel, how about some straight talk from you? You clearly think you know something -- spit it out and stop insinuating, or just stop insinuating.

  • MATTHEW (unverified)


  • Heals (unverified)
    <h2>Steve, OT but why did you have a Steve Novick for US Senate ad on TNT tonight during the Blazers/Suns game? On December 18, 2009. I voted for you but I thought the election was over!</h2>

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