The Vote Against HB3405

Nick Wirth

Yesterday, State Senator Mark Hass authored a guest column defending his rather contentious decision to vote against House Bill 3405 on the Senate floor Wednesday. As was to be expected, his vote as well as his explanation behind it have been met with a fair amount of criticism on this site. Some readers, however, have suggested that the less than enthusiastic response to the post is somehow harmful to the Democratic party. Vocal opponents of Hass' vote have been characterized as purists who demand that Democratic officeholders constantly toe the party line; the liberal equivalent of the infamous Club for Growth.

I absolutely disagree. It is important to understand the rationale behind the anger that many BlueOregon readers have voiced in the past few days. It is not simply the fact that Hass voted against the rest of the caucus that has led to the criticism, but the circumstances surrounding his vote.

House Bill 3405 raised corporate taxes in order to plug 733 million dollar hole in the state budget. It is a proposal that the state is dependent on; without the revenue generated by these increases, services across the state would have seen massive cuts. Tuition would have increased at public universities, teachers would have been laid off across the state and the school year would have been shortened. Prisons would have been closed, in-home care for seniors would have been all but eliminated, and employment-related daycare would similarly have faced major cuts in funding. These are but a few of the programs that would have faced deep cuts without the tax increase. Suffice to say that the stakes were high.

Despite this, Senator Hass chose to vote against the bill. He was the only Democratic Senator to do so, resulting in only 17 votes to pass when the bill required 18. On Wednesday, he explained that his opposition to the bill was based on the grounds that corporations with annual revenues of over $10 million would face permanent tax increases, rather than temporary increases as favored by the Oregon Business Association. The Oregonian wrote:

Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, broke ranks, apparently after long discussions Tuesday with Portland business leaders. Hass said he wants the tax increases to be temporary, which is what a plan promoted by the Oregon Business Association calls for. He likened the tax increase to a homeowner getting flashlights and blankets from a neighbor during a storm, then not giving them back when the storm passes. "Sorry, but that's not the Oregon way," Hass said.

Similarly, the Statesman Journal quoted Hass as stating on Wednesday:

I'm OK with it, except for the permanent tax increases. If there were no economic emergency, would we raise these taxes on business?

On Thursday, HB3405 was again brought to the floor and this time it passed with Hass' support. He reiterated that his original nay vote had been based upon the tax increases being permanent:

[Hass] said he disagreed with higher permanent rates on corporations netting more than $10 million and higher-income households.

Then, in his post on BlueOregon yesterday, Senator Hass completely changed his tune. He explained that he had opposed the bill based on the grounds that HB3405 did not permanently distribute funds from corporate taxes into the Rainy Day Fund. The Senator's original explanation, that corporations making over $10 million a year shouldn't face lasting tax increases, itself deserves scrutiny. But at the very least, Senator Hass should have done the honorable thing and defended that position in his post here at BlueO. Instead, he chose to say one thing on the floor of the Senate and say something else to a different audience in the hope that nobody was paying attention. It is this action, just as much as his original vote, that has prompted a flurry of negative comments.

Castigating Senator Hass for these actions is not going to hurt the Democratic party. Democracy requires voters to hold public officials responsible. When politicians choose to turn a critical bill into political theater, then they should be held accountable. When politicians act two-faced then they deserve to be criticized, regardless of their party affiliation. Blindly following Democratic officials simply because they are Democrats will be more harmful to progressive causes than questioning legislators when they break party ranks.

There are a number of Democratic legislators who vote against the party line more often than Senator Hass, yet are rarely if ever chastised on this site. It is the circumstances surrounding Senator Hass' vote that have led to the strong criticism he now faces. Knowing that he was the deciding vote for a bill upon which Oregon depended, Senator Hass decided to hold the state budget hostage. He voted against the bill (after meeting with well-funded corporate lobbyists) on the principle that multimillion dollar corporations should not be burdened with a permanent tax increase. He then didn't even have the courage to defend this principle a day later and instead chose to give an alternate explanation for his vote. Political gamesmanship has it price, especially when the stakes are so high. Characterizing opponents of Hass' vote as being opposed to independent thought amongst Democratic legislators is simplistic and inaccurate. He has brought this criticism upon himself.

  • LT (unverified)

    Nick is right. This is one of those defining moments--most recent one is how Hillary Clinton and her crew were just SO SURE they would win the nomination, until they lost Iowa and never entirely recovered. Other defining moments have been the formation of the Bus Project, Howard Dean as presidential candidate and DNC Chair. Or to show how old I am, what popular music was like right before the Beatles hit the US in 1965.

    In every case, fresh new wave wiped away stale.

    There were two men I have known and admired who made very heart felt speeches on June 11 about the tax debate: Mark Hass and Frank Morse. Different parties, but neither is a shrill partisan and each is a pleasant, intelligent person to know.

    But here is my problem--Mark might have been right about temporary vs permanent, but where was the public debate prior to June? Did he appear before Revenue in either chamber, or was this a behind the scenes debate until the last minute?

    Frank Morse deserves our respect for his service on both the Revenue Restructuring Task Force and the Public Comm. on the Legislature. Both of those bodies had more public debate than we see in the legislature, no matter who is in charge. Could it be because the members of those groups were individuals and not members of caucuses? Morse brought up some issues which should have been publicly debated in March, April, May, and not just mentioned in a floor speech in June.

    There were those of us who were pleading for public debate early on---after the balance of the budget for the remainder of this biennium, what was their excuse? Too busy? Caucus politics? "Playing cards very close to the vest"? "Against tradition and protocol and anyone who asked about tough issues didn't understand the process" even if they'd been following the legislature since the orginal Bottle Bill was passed? (what one staffer actually said to me).

    Folks, I suggest you check out the current registration statistics--Democrats have something like 43% of the vote, and that alone does not win elections, even if all registered members march in lock step and any public questioning "is somehow harmful to the Democratic party"? Are Democrats now an "obey or else" party like the GOP was under Minnis, Scott, and Tom DeLay nationally?

    Mark did us a favor by reminding everyone of the power of individual elected officials. Frank brought up issues which deserved to be debated publicly much earlier.

    But to some extent, they are both at fault for only talking about them now.

    I have a favorite scene from the show West Wing:

    Pres. Bartlett is complaining nothing is getting done about it. He says, "I HAVE been talking about it, and nothing happens!".

    Leo responds, "Mr. President, I don't notice an absence of cameras and microphones in this building!".

    Why haven't we heard about these issues sooner? Is caucus permission needed to hold a press conference in the capitol basement? Or is it just too much work to debate this stuff openly?

    I would suggest everyone here look up 2 sets of election results, available on the Sec. of State website and perhaps elsewhere.

    1) 2006 Gov. general election results.

    2) Yes votes on Measure 65, the nonpartisan legislature (and other offices) measure. It failed, but over 500,000 Oregonians voted for it.

    Looks to me like the number of Yes on 65 votes tracks closely with the vote results. And how many people who voted no in 2008 still think strong parties are the way to go and only Rs and Ds deserve representation in the legislature?

    I suggest that the number of Yes on 65 voters could well be the swing vote in the 2010 Gov. election, not to mention other elections as well. I am hearing from a variety of sources that people think the caucus system is no longer serving the interests of ordinary folks, not to mention folks in the capitol building.

    There was a time when Oregon Democrats were of the persuasion "Say it LOUD, we debate issues forcefully, and we're proud!".

    Now it seems everyone is way too cautious, more like that 1960s song by Buffalo Springfield

    The line I am thinking of from this song is "Step out of line, the man come, and take you away".

    Is it inertia, or who are they afraid of?

    Make no mistake, there has been considerable good work done by this legislature in a variety of areas, and it is wonderful having Oregon Channel on our cable system and being able to watch many legislators debate thorny issues in committee until they find an answer.

    However others are so cautious that there has been "whispering behind their backs" for some time. What is wrong with these people?

    The caution of some members in this legislative session in too many cases makes me long for the old firebrands and others back a couple decades ago when legislators were being elected as individuals before the caucuses started being so involved.

    Everyone here who has not read it should read FIRE AT EDEN'S GATE by Brent Walth about the 1970s, and I hope Barbara Roberts or someone else is writing a book about her years in politics.

    Don't tell me dissent is harmful to the Democratic Party. I was called "not a real Democrat" as a state central comm. member in the mid-1980s because I sided with Kitzhaber, Katz, and other legislators against some members of the State Central Comm. over an issue in the legislature. I'm still glad I stood where I did, and there were others across the state who agreed with that side of the debate.

    So right on Nick!

    "Democracy requires voters to hold public officials responsible. When politicians choose to turn a critical bill into political theater, then they should be held accountable. When politicians act two-faced then they deserve to be criticized, regardless of their party affiliation. Blindly following Democratic officials simply because they are Democrats will be more harmful to progressive causes than questioning legislators when they break party ranks."

    The people who say Mark should not have been criticized--would you have been willing to go to House members and say "Mark Hass did the right thing, so you have to vote on 3405 again, sorry if that bothers you, but Mark is right"?

    Mark made a gamble, and lost. If it was that important to him in June, he should have appeared at the Revenue hearings in both chambers to bring up the issue the first time the bill was heard and as many times as necessary after that. I have heard no evidence that he did that, it sounds like he caved to the OBA lobby.

    This is why I am a big advocate of campaign finance reform, esp. ending "pass throughs". If all contributions had to go directly to the candidate, we could all find out easily how much OBA money had been donated to Hass.

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    Not to nitpick, but it's actually spelled "Hass." I just see it misspelled all the time and it must get old...

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    Andrew, I've made that edit for Nick. Thanks.

  • Boats (unverified)

    Why all the angst? You are almost certainly going to have these bills killed via referendum votes.

    The negative ads concerning permanently raising taxes during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression almost write themselves.

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    Boats, would you support raising taxes at the height of the economic boom? Or were you opposed to that, too?

  • Boats (unverified)

    You see Kari, increased economic activity brings in extra tax revenues during booms, so no.

    A good Keynesian raises taxes during a downturn, but not permanently. You guys had the right answer, but you got greedy and odds are you will be spanked for it at the ballot.

    You should act more like pragmatic Oregonians and less like wannabe California-style petty tyrants.

  • steve (unverified)

    Why all the angst? You are almost certainly going to have these bills killed via referendum votes.

    "Almost certainly?" You're joking right? Sure, and Kevin Mannix will be the next Governor, and Bill Sizemore the state Treasurer.

  • steve (unverified)

    A good Keynesian raises taxes during a downturn, but not permanently.

    Actually, a good Keynesian runs a surplus in good times, and does not raise taxes during a recession, which impedes recovery.

    However, to preserve essential services, we've chosen to be bad Keynsians.

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    "The negative ads concerning permanently raising taxes during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression almost write themselves."

    Yes, I can just IMAGINE the crisis those couples who make more than a HALF OF A MILLION DOLLARS this year are going through, those downtrodden folks among the top 2-3% of wage earners in the state! Similarly, those barely hanging on businesses that could only manage a quarter million in profits this year--whatever will they do?

    Get real.

  • Ron Morgan (unverified)

    "You should act more like pragmatic Oregonians and less like wannabe California-style petty tyrants."

    If Oregonians were by nature pragmatic then we'd have dispensed with the kicker a long time ago. Instead, it's a combination sacred cow and political third rail.

    Dispense with political parties? Voters turned that one down. You can't have politics without... politics. We have a system that favors a binary party dynamic, third parties come and go. If we really wanted to dispense with the two party system we'd have to become parliamentary government, and all the behind the scenes political work would be between little factions trying to form a majority. I can see Oregon turning into Italy...

  • SD (unverified)

    I think Nick has a point. It is not the vote, it is Hass's attempt to wiggle out of how he voted.

    Rep. Schaufler, a democrat, voted no and no one is railing against him in the manner that they are livid about Hass's vote. You know why? Because like the vote or not, Schaufler lets you know where he stands and will defend his position.

    Hass apparently works to back peddle and save his own skin once he feels the heat of a vote that must have sent his constituents up a wall.

    The compromise that Hass takes credit for is nothing but a face saving move (though I think it is good policy). We owe Rep. Read a debt of gratitude for coming up with a way to give Hass an out (and good policy). We owe Hass some serious questioning about his honesty and where he really stands.

  • greenfloyd (unverified)

    By now I think most people expect politicians to talk out both sides of their mouth. After all aren't most of them there to tell us what we want to hear, rather than the truth? lol...

    At any rate, I believe it all comes back to the corrupting influence of private money in politics. I for one think that's what all this comes down to. We prohibit people from enjoying pot, so why can't we prohibit people from taking bribes at election time? Hass!? Off with his head... methaphorically speaking of course. Cheers. <center>Roller~Poster</center>

  • Boats (unverified)

    You're kidding, right SD? Shaufler was inveighed against on this blog as though he were Satan incarnate. You simply haven't found the correct demonization post.

    And Mr. Morgan, doing away with the kicker is a fanciful notion that has as much a chance as Sarah Palin becoming a Nobel laureate in physics. The kicker has, at least among those of us out here who actually pay income taxes, a nearly sacred spot in our hearts. The undeniable appeal of the kicker is this:

    It's not your money. It's not the legislature's money. It's not Ted's money. It's the taxpayers' money and precious few trust the donkeys with it.

    Since few, if any, contribute it back to the government, it's safe to say that the kicker enjoys far more popularity than any official in this state does.

    You're always going to have a helluva rough ride on taxes in this state with the cautionary tale of the total tax and spending disaster and its ever expanding "essential services" directly to the south being in the news all of the time.

    California has everything the local donkeys here want: A three legged tax stool. A "professional" legislature that has next to no voter accountability. Outsized public employee unions for easy campaign cash. A huge class of government dependent serfs to do their electoral bidding. Revolving door statewide electoral offices to keep the otherwise unemployable at the public teat. A super regulatory body with which to mess with every industry and car maker on the planet

    And they have turned California into a banana republic, driving away industry, hampering agriculture, and sending high income earners dashing for safe haven virtually anywhere else.

    The coming general poverty down there is going to to do the Third World proud.

  • Elaine (unverified)

    "Vocal opponents of Hass' vote have been characterized as purists who demand that Democratic officeholders constantly toe the party line; the liberal equivalent of the infamous Club for Growth."

    This is, of course, an incorrect characterization. Representatives are supposed to represent. . . people, not necessarily any party. In this case, I believe Hass was well aware of the best interests and will of the majority of his constituents and chose to ignore them. And just when is that a good idea? Surely, it is easier to fulfill corporate goals since increasing their profits is their sole mission. But I didn't vote for my representative to ignore the needs of our communities. We've seen where unmitigated corporate greed has taken us. Yeah, just who had the great directions? No one seems accountable because corporations seem to be rather anonymous.

    So, a balance between business interests and our shared, community interests must be found. That's not a hard-line nor fringe element thought. It's a civil idea. It's just that corporations, for the last 30 years have been (ahem) over-represented as we've seen our social services shrink along with the taxes that businesses pay. Anyone who denies this, needs to brush up on their historical knowledge.

    Having said this, I'm all in favor of a tiered tax system for businesses. In Oregon, as elsewhere, so-called "big business" has hidden behind the skirts of small businesses to the latter's disadvantage.This only happens when we let them. It again fits that large corporations generally have no interest in furthering the growth of small, unless it is a spin-off or potential acquisition target. There are a whole host of tax changes that will need to occur before this problem is adequately addressed. It's time we get started.

  • Mark Hass (unverified)


    I’ll try this once again. Forgive me if I was unclear, I thought I had made my points in two floor speeches, a statement and an email to Blue Oregon.

    It is poor public policy to permanently raise taxes during an economic recession.

    I’ve spent eight years serving on House and Senate Revenue committees – spending more time than a sane person should spend with economic studies, tax theory and looking at what other states are doing. And a permanent tax increase during an emergency has never helped states pull out of an economic recession or put people back to work.

    If you believe otherwise, great. Then let’s have this discussion in an open process with hearings, with testimony and with the incredible computer modeling resources we have through the highly respected Legislative Revenue Office.

    But as you know, there was no such process in the Senate.

    More time was spent on making the Dungeness crab the state crustacean than on this $800 million tax bill.

    In my opinion, it’s never a good idea to pass laws based on opinions, bias, and assumptions. Policy should be justified by facts, data, openness and a thorough and thoughtful discussion.

    Since my first term I have always advocated for changing Oregon’s tax code – a top-to-bottom reform. I recently wrote a piece for the Oregonian that explains why our tax code produces these train wrecks every time the economy falls. Perhaps someone could add that link to this discussion.

    But tax reform is more than just raising taxes or cutting taxes. It’s changing our tax code in a way that produces a stable revenue stream to keep our schools and vital services funded. It’s making sure our tax policy matches our economic goals -- whether it’s green industry or high technology. Tax reform is much more difficult than just raising taxes.

    So, there you have it. I have tried to be consistent and clear, responding to more than 500 emails in the last few days and talking to anybody who wants to talk. I am easy to find at the Capitol and am always happy to discuss tax policy with fellow tax wonks.

    Mark Hass

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    SD wrote: "Rep. Schaufler, a democrat, voted no and no one is railing against him in the manner that they are livid about Hass's vote. You know why? Because like the vote or not, Schaufler lets you know where he stands and will defend his position."

    I know why and it's not what SD says. Schaufler was one out of a majority in the House. His vote was not crucial while Hass' was. Furthermore, there are plenty of people in his district who are livid about Schaufler and time will tell where he will end up next year. Voting against the first success we've had in reforming business taxation and, more importantly, the millions of dollars in political contributions we've made to get ourselves a legislature and a governor who are on our side for a change, is inexcusable.

  • Insider (unverified)

    Dear Senator:

    The primary responsibilty of the majority is to govern. You don't understand that or you would have NEVER been willing to go along with Deckert and stand in the way of the Legislature governing. I have followed the Legislature closely during the time you have served. You are no longer in the minority and you have a much greater responsibilty to let your concerns be known early in the process. You obviously failed in that responsibilty and poteniallly put you fellow legislative Democrats in an impossible situation. If you actually thought that it would be ok to be the "hero" while hanging everyone else out to dry, then you do not deserve my respect. The people that have supported you deserve an apology NOT excuses or faulty rationaliziation. You and Deckert are naive and cannot be trusted.

  • marv (unverified)

    If as Senator Hass suggests lower taxes bring prosperous times one wonders why there is a problem. Oh yes. It is spending that is the problem. And just as soon as every possible element of the economy is owned and operated by a corporation (probably international and unregulated) all of our problems will be solved.

    It will be like the security guard at the Holocaust Memorial whose fellow workers tried for two years to have the privatized employer provide bullet proof vests. The problem is solved when you are dead.

    No taxes on the rich equals prosperity for all. Remember that is the truth. It is based on faith alone. Facts do not matter. Deficits do not matter. The rule of law does not matter. Just have faith and believe. Jesus is coming and the just will ascend.

  • Ron Morgan (unverified)

    "Since few, if any, contribute it back to the government, it's safe to say that the kicker enjoys far more popularity than any official in this state does."

    You prove my point. The kicker has a deep emotional pull that has nothing to do with rational decision making. Folks get a check for a couple of hundred bucks, cry "whoopie!" and go to Freddy's and Les Schwab's for some new tires... all based on the notion that one can make accurate economic forecasts two years in advance. It's quaint, sort of the like the "you can't trust gummint" rationale behind it. I don't expect Oregon to drop the kicker anytime soon, but I don't have to pretend that its wise and prudent policy either.

    As for California, Prop 13 sewed the seeds of their budget mess, passing local costs to the state for local services, and then gerrymandering to preserve seats for both parties fertilized it. This isn't anything new for them, they haven't passed a budget on time in recent memory, the only thing writ large this year is the issue of magnitude. California has become ungovernable, but it's been so for a long time, at least since Gray Davis.

  • Boats (unverified)

    I often read people writing about Measure 5, or Prop 13, in a passive voice like these things just happened in a fit of stupidity or cupidity. What you never see them described as on liberal blogs are as honest to God backlashes to governmental irresponsibility.

    My grandfather heavily financed Prop 13 in California and met several times with Paul Gann, who was not as well known as Howard Jarvis, but a major player nonetheless.

    All of his adult life, starting of as a baker and then running a successful insurance business, my grandfather had dreamt of owning a medium sized citrus orchard like the one he had worked on as a youth. He eventually achieved that dream, buying a working 55 acre orchard with oranges, lemons an avocado grove, farmhouse and outbuildings upon it. The idea was to have a great place to raise his four children and work the farm as a break even proposition. Throughout the sixties that played out just fine. Then the California Supreme Court ordered school funding equalization and the dash for taxpayer cash was on since school funding was taken from communities and centralized in Sacramento.

    As my grandfather retired in the 70s, the city of Oceanside sprawled ever closer to his orchard. The first battle was over water rights and fire protections. My grandfather didn't want to cede any water rights to Oceanside nor pay for incorporated fire services to be extended out to his property. What happens next? The county assessor, whose interests are clearly tied to the voters of Oceanside who put him in office, started jacking the ad valorem taxes on every orchard abutting the city limits, hiking them as high as 50% cycle over cycle. The explanation was always that growth was fueling a need for schools and services. Indeed a middle school went up a mile from his house shortly thereafter, about quadruple the size of the one his own kids had attended. The economic model my grandfather's orchard was predicated on had never contemplated being hollowed out by the once distant city. Not only that, but AB 80 was supposed to have reined in such abusive valuation hikes, but protests fell on deaf ears in Sacramento. My grandfather always had a quote about it, " We in the agricultural community could never outbid either the developers nor the schools lobby for the services of our legislators."

    Long story short, my father was forced to subdivide his dream one piece at a time. Each piece sold harmed the economic viability of the remainder. Eventually all of the trees were bulldozed to make way for tract housing. Even the largely unusable gully behind his home was infilled with houses that receive periodic mudslide damage to this day and present an acute fire hazard due to a pointed lack of egress capacity, but some developer bought someone off. Today my aunt own the rump of the place, a decent sized split level home on a lot indistinguishable from the immediate neighbors about 100 of whom are sited on land formerly belonging to my family just two generations ago. Oh, and Oceanside is trying to build a desalination plant. So much for the water rights they eventually acquired.

    My grandfather, being absolutely robbed of his vision of the American Dream, plowed a lot of his property sale "windfall" into getting Prop 13 passed.

    And pass it did, with about 65-66% of the vote IIRC. The very idea of folks being priced out of their homes and dreams via taxation, is anathema to what this country is all about.

    Tax protests don't happen in a vacuum.

  • marv (unverified)

    An anecdote explains one person's ignorance. The issue is supply side economic policy. It has failed for momst but it has been a great success for those who want to destroy public education and turn over to private entities the ownership and operation of roads, bridges, the military and everything the 'grandpa' did not foresee being destroyed.

    We don't have to be that ignorant. Even 'grandpa' would presumably want to retain the Constitution and the rule of law; the same supplyside fools do not give a damn about an oath of office. Remember. Just move your company to off-shore. Don't pay taxes. Buy a lobbyist. What a shame that an idiot wants us to believe that the country will survive more of this horse shit.

  • Boats (unverified)

    Prop 13 passed in 1978. "Supply-side economics" didn't enter the lexicon until after 1980. Folks have always been buying legislators.

    IOW, try again in English please.

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    First, a general comment about Boats, who has managed to hijack Nick's post. For folks looking for an exchange that delves into the effects of taxes on the economy, boats is not your guy (or gal). His view has that perfect rigidity of an idealogue's--it is wholly insensitive to change. Discussions with freshly-painted walls are more likely to produce unexpected comment. (in other words, don't feed the trolls.)

    As to Nick's charges, I think they are pretty well supported. I appreciate Senator Hass' willingness to engage the issue, but it still looks like a less-than-transparent effort to walk back from a political blunder.

  • rw (unverified)

    TJ, I so agree with you. This is so much noise and blather. Arseholes with second homes and still taking their little spa I know a kid working for someone driving a Rolls and always away in NY or wherever, and she is always on about her poverty and the instability of her two businesses. And he dares not resent her for her lifestyle - just has to believe in and keep trying to make her businesses as profitable and strong as possible - to protect his ten dollars an hour, unstable hours and no benefits. He has to protect her three cars, none of them less than a late model mercedes, and healthy travel schedule - so he can pay his rent with his roommates.

    I sure do feel for all those folks with those second homes in Black Butte and the third little cottage in Manzanita. Feh!

  • rw (unverified)

    Boats, your grandfathers's story is a sad one. And is unique, not a typical story that relates to what is going on today. I would love to hear you analyze it now, in light of what we face NOW, not the conditions of that time. How, precisely, does his story relate to Oregon in 2009? Not being snippy here - asking honestly, as your story is illustrative, yes, of why tax protests occur, why THAT tax protest occurred. I am just not sure it relates in any distant way to this discussion, frankly.

  • rw (unverified)

    I see here that Boats is going from one thread to the next and, basically, all he has to say is the following: "Prop 13, Grandpa, Prop 13, Prop 13, Prop 13"...

  • Boats (unverified)

    Call me a troll all you wish, but three things to consider:

    I have told Kari Chisholm that I'd not have objected to a temporary tax increase to fill the budgetary hole. Lots of folks agree that such a move would have been both prudent and shown some badly needed restraint from a Democratic majority.

    Secondly, the much needed fiscal restraint to rehabilitate the Democratic image of being tax happy opportunists did not materialize. Hell, only Mr. Hass even paid it any lip service.

    The echo chamber in Salem is not reality in a state with direct democracy tools available to the electorate.


    Reflexively against taxes I may be, but people who see things my way have to be contended with nonetheless. Are you going to buy air time to call all of us reactionary troglodytes?

  • Cafe Today (unverified)

    @ Insider:

    Neither Hass nor Deckert are naive. I certainly wouldn't trust Deckert, but he knows how the building works and he has done a great job this session of killing bills and altering others to OBA's liking. He couldn't quite pull it off on this one, but that doesn't take away from his lobbying success on other measures.

    Hass is a sharp guy who has made a couple of major missteps this session. Can't really explain why, but it's not because he's naive.

    Anyway, those who think that Hass can/will be successfully primaried over this are the naive ones. Some folks have a long memory, but the voting public definitely does not.

    And, ultimately, the bills passed so why don't y'all just calm down?

  • rw (unverified)

    Cafe: "how the building works". Gag. You sound soooooo very very. Ack.

    Could you drop the linguistic posturing please?

  • rw (unverified)

    Ok, before I turn this off and do something real with my time, Boats, don't take this the wrong way, but I simply cannot wait until you have a disabled grandchild and cannot find ANY help or programmatic support for that kid. `I will then welcome you into that fold you reflex against like the gag I feel as you parrot Prop 13 non sequitur: once you actually have an exposed soft spot you fiercely want to protect more than the sad story of Grandpa's Farm, you WILL stop ranting against the necessary evil of perhaps asking the very wealthy to share some extra so as to avoid the complete collapse of the systems they themselves require to continue working to support that wealth.

    Once you actually have a situation you CANNOT cure by dint of your hard work and connections, but MUST have help from >gasp< the guvMint to ameliorate some misery... you will change that tune.

    We are not talking JUST about able bodied people who need help, thus activating all manner of anti-welfare mythologies. We are talking about shutting down the School for the Blind and dissipating those resources into inadequate and ineffecitve mainstream settings. We are talking about abolishing entire strata of in-home care support to ensure seniours have contact ONE DAY a week with someone from the outside. We are talking about retarded children such as my friends' having even less support to self-actualization. We are talking about another person I know who has brain injury - being thrown off social security; yet she cannot work!

    Do you not think that the top 2 percent could PLEASE be cajoled to give a good shit for just a few years? Egad.

    Soon enough they will go after this law, buy the necessary hands in the air to reverse it. It will not last forever!!! But forever is the best first-out parameter to establish so as to START! So as to win enough time to really do something about the current circs, don't you think?

  • Patrick Story (unverified)

    Someone asks what Boats's long tale about Grandpa has to do with present day Oregon. Well, Grandpa was done in by urban sprawl and its usual problems of water rights, fire protection, etc.

    I well remember Oceanside back when it was a pleasant town. With an urban growth boundary, mass transit and residential infill in Oceanside, Grandpa could have been a happy farmer supplying much-appreciated local produce to a flourishing city, the way local farmers are supplying Portland now. I just hope grandpa would have supported a UGB.

  • rw (unverified)

    Yet, Patrick, my bet is that Boats is also adamantly against land use planning (protects his Grandpa's orchards), for the wickedness of guvmint interference in the god given rights of the land-owning to do as they please with what they have wrested to themselves! :)....

    I still do not understand what the taxation of Grandpa's dream has to do with the specific discussion we have going viz taxation in Oregon? I GET what the story was about. I do NOT understand what it has to do with us, here, now, THIS tax story? I might be thick as a brick.

  • LT (unverified)

    Mark, all due respect, but as the poster I once saw says, "The message communicated is what is heard, not what is said".

    My guess is that folks here would have been more forgiving if you'd been making public statements along the lines of "It is poor public policy to permanently raise taxes during an economic recession. " BEFORE OBA first came out with the tax plan they said they would support but which was a smaller amount than some legislators thought necessary. If you supported that OBA plan, what would you have cut (or what other revenue would you have raised) to make up the difference? You had lots more details in your TV reporting than you have had in your rhetoric recently.

    Where were you talking about such "poor public policy" in March, April, May? In private? I believe there are folks here who don't spend their days in the capitol and felt blindsided by your actions.

    The other problem is with this statement:

    It is poor public policy to permanently raise taxes during an economic recession. But tax reform is more than just raising taxes or cutting taxes. It’s changing our tax code in a way that produces a stable revenue stream to keep our schools and vital services funded.

    Did you attend any of the Revenue Restructuring Task Force meetings? Read their report? Discuss their discussions and findings with Sen. Frank Morse who served on that task force?

    Exactly what details do you want to see in tax reform? Or is that too detailed for you? What "stable revenue stream" do you support, or is that for you to know and for us to find out?

    Say what you will about Schaufler, he is known for being candid and cantankerous (sometimes in the best way, as when he told a committee witness something like "Don't tell me where I stand on that issue without hearing me out!" or words to that effect). It may have been less of a surprise how he voted.

    And one part of this debate is how some people felt this was unfair to House members. A friend who works for a Republican House member said he'd never seen the House floor more tense before the day the 2 bills passed.

    To the extent your actions looked like "Of course the House should have to vote on this because Mark wants an amendment to the bill, and no one else's views matter as much as Mark's." "Who died and made you king" is the sentiment I believe underlies the outrage. Would you have been willing to talk with not only House Dems. but also Reps. Jenson and Smith and said "Sorry guys, but you have to live through what may have been your toughest day this session because I need your ammendment which means you have to repass the bill with amendments"? To the extent that causes some people to see your actions as self-centered and/or mean towards the House, statements from you like

    "I’ve spent eight years serving on House and Senate Revenue committees – spending more time than a sane person should spend with economic studies, tax theory and looking at what other states are doing. And a permanent tax increase during an emergency has never helped states pull out of an economic recession or put people back to work."

    might well be met with "that would have been a fine speech in March, April, or maybe even May, but this is June, Mark, and we'd like to adjourn before the 4th of July.

    Some of your worlds and actions remind me of a line from a song, "there is none so blind, as he who would not see". Put yourself in the shoes of your fellow senators who made angry speeches after your vote, or some of the House members. Can you truly say that if the tables were turned you'd say "Of course you need to have your way, and no one has the right to complain at what seems to be a last minute decision"?

    What cuts would you have supported to funding in your Senate district if the bill had not passed on June 11?

    Mark, what efforts in this legislative session do you have to show for your time? What kept you SO busy that you couldn't speak publicly about taxation except that Oregonian column (which struck me as detail-challenged) and your June speeches?

    Boats, you need to learn the difference between fact and opinion. Assuming the legislature adjourns by the end of June, the deadline for Russ Walker & Co to turn in signatures will be the end of September. That means, come October, we will know how many signatures were collected. If over 80,000 signatures are collected, you may be right. But if closer to 40,000 signatures are collected, that number is less than the 55,000+ needed. If the latter is the case, there will not be a referendum. Period.

    And do you really believe that EVERY campaign which runs negative ads over and over wins? No nasty ad ever made anyone so angry that they voted the other way to protest and ad?

    Folks, the future can sometimes be surprising. I wouldn't gamble on anyone who says they KNOW what the political climate will be next fall.

  • LT (unverified)

    One more thing:

    I personally think this column makes more sense about the tax structure of Oregon than anything I have heard from Sen. Hass.

    I realize there are those who say "We should wait until a February session to do kicker reform because we only get one bite at it" (if not an exact quote, it is close, and I suspect the person who said that to me one day at the capitol is probably reading BO at least sometimes).

    If kicker reform is not on the ballot by next year, and those who urged a "go slow on kicker reform" approach find themselves with primary challengers, they will only have themselves to blame.

    Let's have a vigorous, intelligent debate here about what the guest opinion in the Oregonian says. And if any legislator wants to say here that we can't discuss kicker reform this year for whatever reason, that would be honest. Those who then agree with such a legislator can support that person in 2010, those who disagree can oppose.

    Or have some legislators forgotten what the first 3 words of the Oregon Constitution are? (Hint: caucus and lobbyist are words not mentioned in the Constitution.)

  • Vulgar Keynesian (unverified)

    Sen. Hass,

    While true, it is a gross simplification to simply say that it is bad to raise taxes in a recession. Raising taxes is recessionary, however, as you are well aware, because we have a balanced budget requirement, the current revenue shortfall had to be addressed via raising taxes or cutting spending. Cutting spending, just like raising taxes, is a recessionary program. Because of our balanced budget rules, it is not a question of if the state will do something recessionary, but which of the two recessionary options the state will pick and who will bare the cost of that choice. If we did not raise taxes and cut programs, than the cost of the recession would fall on the poor and middle class. If we raised taxes it would fall on the upper middle class and wealthy. When the revenue forecast was presented, Rep. Bruun made the same comment you did and the state Economist reminded the Rep of the costs associated with cutting spending. To simply claim that it is unfair to make companies pay implies it is fair to make the poor pay. Having followed you, I have trouble accepting that this is your belief. However, your actions and words tempt me, and others, to draw this inference.

  • Keynsian Schmeynsian RW (unverified)

    Vulgar, I like your style. I think I'd like to call the Philosophy Talk guys to test the strength and purity of your internal logos. Believe it would stand up True.

  • (Show?)

    Real Keynesianism runs deficits in times of business cycle downturn, maintaining or increasing public services whose demand increases because of private sector failures while keeping public workers employed & in income that they spend in the private sector speeding up recovery there.

    Then, as others have said, surpluses for "rainy day" funds & maybe judicious tax cuts in up cycles. Kind of like Joseph & Pharaoh in the Bible. Not a new concept.

    The balanced budget rules governing state and local governments preclude this.

    It's time for state, regional, county and local and regional governments and service agencies like TriMet (including entities like school boards) to get together and demand a People's Bailout from the Federal government for the duration of the crisis. The president's stimulus bill was cut nearly in half in a pointless effort to get Republican support that was not forthcoming.

    California's $24 billion budget gap is about half per capita of Oregon's $4 billion (before recent enactments) -- and less than the bailout money for General Motors, almost derisory next to the monoy thrown at big finance capital's organizations.

    Split the difference to assume that across the country state deficits cumulatively would be half way between California & Oregon per capita. Say California has about 1/6 of the national population. Six x $36 billion = $216 billion. Say double that for local and county deficits, we're still under $450 billion -- at least $200 billion less than what was cut from Obama's original stimulus bill.

    (Think about what that says about the scale of the big finance giveaways btw -- at least several and perhaps many times the amount needed to redress all of the public deficits in the country.)

    Our local, county & state leaders should get together with one another and with their counterparts nationally to act as tribunes of the people and demand a People' Bailout on our behalf.

  • Pedro (unverified)

    Boats, do you live in Oregon or some other location?

    The reason I ask is that you seem to think that what happened to Grandpa in California could happen here. The fact is that Oregon has progressive land use planing that prevents urban sprawl and sets aside areas for agriculture and other uses. In your example, Grandpa's property would be protected and taxed at the appropriate level.

    Prop 13 was bad medicine for Californians. It treats the symptom not the cause. It actually made things much worse for Californians.

    Tom McCall (former republican governor) had it just right: "Don't Californicate Oregon"

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Pedro, good comments, however as recently demonstrated by the Salem democrat dominated Senate, the long valued Oregon land-use planning process can be usurped at the whim of a few powerful politicians. In the most current example of the Metolius Meddling; Grandpa's property could be legislated away from him even for traditional and historical use.

    Prop 13 wasn't bad medicine for California. It was the correct medicine at the correct time. Unfortunately, the doctors (to continue the midicine metaphor you offered) in Sacramento continued giving to the powerful public employee interests and the government class in general without heeding the lesson taught by Prop 13.

  • LT (unverified)

    "powerful public employee interests "?

    Recently (after lots of email and phone calls) I learned that the reason our school district top administrators (asst. supt. etc.) have a car allowance was that there was a supt. almost 2 decades ago who decided that was a good idea, and no one in a position to change that has done anything since, the "we've always done it that way" idea.

    Comments about "public employees" usually mean public unions have caused problems.

    No organization of humans is perfect, but I fail to see how public employee unions are responsible for management stupidity.

    Until someone can explain why administrators getting large salaries and perks is the fault of unions, I will tune out complaints about "public employees". Has it been positively demonstrated that whenever a public service is contracted out to private contractors that the quality remains the same and the cost is lower?

    Or is it a philosophy that Rank Has Its Privileges, management should be paid whatever the market will bear, and if frontline workers don't like low pay they should look for higher paying work elsewhere?

    Or is this just unthinking ideology which doesn't want to answer specific questions?

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    LT, I have no axe to grind against public employee unions. I agree that administrators having great perks and bennies is not the direct fault of the unions in a public setting. My complaint is that the traditional collective bargaining situation does not exist. Those bargaining as 'managment' are not the ones footing the bill. Since they share in the positive outcomes re:more pay, benefits and perks, they are not a disinterested party to the negotiations.

    It has been shown in several

  • LT (unverified)

    "Those bargaining as 'managment' are not the ones footing the bill. Since they share in the positive outcomes re:more pay, benefits and perks, they are not a disinterested party to the negotiations."

    OK, how would you have administrative pay and benefits set--by legislators? Or how, exactly?

    When the Republicans were in control, they acted as if frontline public sector workers were unionized peons who didn't deserve anything beyond min. wage, while management deserved "what the market will bear".

    In our school district, top managers had pay adopted in January, 2009 at over $120,000 including the car allowance (without a recorded school board vote--they did it consent calendar), then there was a move to reopen union contracts because of the financial emergency. And the board and supt. wondered why there was backlash from the community!

    This may have been why the 2 new school board members are a breath of fresh air and talk about making data driven solutions.

    I've been told by legislative staffers that such administrative pay should not even be asked about this session because it is contrary to protocol, tradition, and besides I don't understand the process---as if having observed the legislature in Salem for over 30 years doesn't count.

    This is why anyone who mentions "public employees" is a red flag. If you have a compensation scheme in mind, let's hear it. But I am tired of the complaining which sounds like ideology.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    OK LT, I accept the challenge.

    I agree that $120,000 pay packages for school district administrators is out of the upper end of acceptable. However, they like many other government agency/committee's and service agencies set their own wages with a 'wave-by' courtesy of whatever oversight board that existed.

    Here in Medford the same occured with the head of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency. Their base pay had risen from $70k/yr 3 years ago to just under $100k and this year MURA wanted to raise it again by about 9%. This in addition to the former head of the agency recieving a generous consulting contract worth about $80k/yr. UNACCEPTABLE the MURA board said....finally. When pressed about these type of raises, those advocating for them state that pay raises are needed to be'competitive' with other agencies and government entities. Sorry, I do not buy it. Pay for managers and administrators should be performance based and not subject to COLA.

    Pay/benefit packages for represented employees should be bargained reasonably in an open atmosphere. For instance, Eagle Point School District and their negotiating teams took over 10 months to get a contract. The sticking point was whether COLA shold be 2.5% or 4.0%. This is in addition to built in 'Step' raises. In my opinion COLA is a thing of the past and should be negotiated out of contracts, but that is just me.

    I fail to see the evidence that when republicans were in charge that state unionized workers were treated as minimum wage peons. During that time they successfully bargained for increased sick pay, increased holidays, increased contributions to PERS over the employer mandatory contribution and held the line on any meaningful contribution or co-pays for medical benefits.

    Again, I do not begrudge the state employee unions for any of this. Those bargaining on the other side of the table had/have a conflict of interest in that they directly benefit from increases negotiated for the union employees. It is in whichever political party is in control to create dependence among state unionized employees in a cynical vote gaining scheme.

    I would suggest a pattern of outcome based bargaining whereby an honest discussion is held with union representatives. Open the books to the budget and show what really is needed for infrastructure maintenance and rather than rob from that to bolster pay/benefit packages (as happened for about 20 years in the Medford School District and others), have union representatives make a choice of where they would want limited resources to go.

    Of course that's just one idea.

  • Pedro (unverified)


    I disagree with everything you wrote. Prop 13 in California and Measure 5 here in Oregon have done incredible damage to both states. That was the deliberate intention of their sponsors.

    Despite Carla's best efforts I am not following the Metolius issue. I am a life long Oregonian who is proud of the heritage of conserving beautiful places for generations to come. If that's the case then the legislature has done an exceptional job!

    By the way what is the "Salem democrat dominated Senate" you refer to?

  • 哈尔滨seo (unverified)

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