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Oregon lawmakers’ cost-cutting ideas target government employee pay, benefits

Thursday, May 18, 2017

By Saul Hubbard

The Register-Guard

SALEM — A small, bipartisan group of lawmakers Friday released a long list of cost-­reduction ideas, an effort to close part of ­Oregon’s $1.6 billion budget shortfall without cutting key services.

The wide-ranging list would curb public employee pay, and health and pension benefits, ­[and] reduce the number of state government jobs…

Because they would mean ­financial hits to public employees, many of the ideas also are politically toxic for majority Democrats…

But some Democrats hope to leverage the significant cost-­cutting measures into Republican support for a major business tax increase…

Steve Demarest, president of SEIU Local 503, the state’s largest union, calls the proposals “outrageous,” pointing out that many of the ideas would affect public employees directly.

“This is an effort to scapegoat people who have dedicated their lives to public service when we should be doing something about our out-of-whack, lowest-in-the-nation corporate taxes,” Demarest said in a prepared statement Friday…

We Respond & Your Comments

OMG! It’s an outrage! Asking workers employed by an entity that’s financially upside down to pay part of their pensions! It’s the Black Plague, Haymarket Riots and Valentine’s Day Massacre all rolled into one toxic dose of abuse!

Maybe some of you have been involved in a troubled business. You may even have had to take a pay cut or been laid off. Did you whine, moan and bedwet? No – because you’re adults who know that life isn’t always pleasant.

Now let’s look at the Democrats’ Grand Strategy. Here it is:

  • Dig a gigantic budget hole by spending like there’s no tomorrow;
  • Threaten to cut off essential programs (especially for The Children) unless Republicans agree to new taxes;
  • Use current spending levels, less some painless cuts, as the platform for new excessive spending;
  • Repeat as needed.

There it is, folks – playing out before your very eyes.


Lawmakers try again at making Oregon ballots free to mail

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

By Gordon R. Friedman

SALEM — Voting may be a right, but in Oregon it can also come with a price: 49 cents, the cost of a postage stamp needed to put a ballot in the mail. But that may change as members of the Legislature are again considering a bill to have the state pre-pay for ballot postage.

The legislation, Senate Bill 683, is backed by Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, and Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin. They say it’s tough for some would-be voters to obtain a stamp.

“This is especially true for a lot of young people who don’t use stamps,” Dembrow told the Senate Rules Committee Monday. “They pay their bills electronically…. It’s also true for a lot of people who are low-income or who maybe have disabilities.”

Devlin told the committee that Senate Bill 683 is about increasing “participation in our representative democracy.”

If pre-paying for ballot postage boosted voter turnout by 5 percent, it’d be worth the estimated $650,000 to $1.3 million annual price tag, he said…

We Respond & Your Comments

We’re touched to the point of tears by Mike & Rich’s concern for the young, poor, disabled and voter turnout. Aren’t you?

What’s that you say? Mikey & Richy don’t give a (insert your favorite word here) about them? You think he knows they vote mostly Democrat and that his Progressive pals will snag a whole slew of votes?

We’re shocked by your cynicism. We know Dems care only about young, poor and other at risk Oregonians – whether or not they vote. Indeed, they care deeply. And they care enough to add maybe a million or more bucks to our State’s budget hole.

Now – aren’t you ashamed of yourselves?


Competition, demographics concern Oregon Lottery director

Thursday, April 6, 2017

By Anna Marum, The Oregonian

PORTLAND — One of Oregon’s critical revenue sources, the Oregon Lottery, could be in jeopardy.

Aging players, increasing competition from tribe-operated casinos and a shrinking retail base threaten to cut into revenue the state budget counts on, lottery director Barry Pack told the House Revenue Committee on Tuesday.

The lottery, with more than 3,900 retailers statewide, is projected to contribute nearly $1.2 billion to state coffers this biennium. About half of that goes to education…The rest would pay for economic development, parks and natural resources, and gambling addiction treatment…

The biggest problem facing the state’s lottery, Pack said, is…players are getting older, and young people aren’t as interested as lottery officials would like…

We Respond & Your Comments

There are arguments pro and con on government lotteries. Pro – They generate loads of money. Con – They’re regressive taxes on low income workers and catnip to addicts.

We believe people should get the government they’re willing to pay for. Instead, Oregonians get $1.2 billion of programs whose costs aren’t paid by taxes and therefore go unnoticed. When money dwindles, legislators can zero them out or preserve them with more taxes. Guess which they choose.

Who’s really gotten a free ride on lottery bucks are politicians. They’ve spent them to create programs that get them reelected. Think when lottery dollars fade they’ll just kill them? No – they’ll pick your pockets to keep their good times rolling.


Oregon tax revenue growing 2x other states

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

By Taxpayer Association of Oregon Foundation, reprinted in Oregon Catalyst

Governor Kate Brown and some lawmakers say the State of Oregon is facing a $1.7 billion budget shortfall in the 2017-19 biennium. Yet, this shortfall is in the face of all-time high tax money coming in to state government.

Research published by the Pew Charitable Trusts finds that Oregon has seen some of the fastest growth in tax revenues since the end of the Great Recession.

Pew’s comparison of each state’s tax receipts show that since 2010, Oregon had the third largest recovery among the states. On average, states have seen tax revenues grow by 21 percent. At 41 percent growth, Oregon’s tax revenues grew at nearly double the state average.

…On average, states have seen tax revenues grow by 6 percent since their pre-recession peaks. Oregon’s tax revenue growth was more than 16 percent since the end of 2008…

Deficits are caused from spending outpacing revenues. Despite Oregon’s record rate of revenue collection, state spending plans have increased even faster…

We Respond & Your Comments

Record levels of tax dollars – dollars you worked for – are rolling in to Salem. But they’re not enough for the Progressives who run our Beaver State. They’ve spent themselves into a $1.7 or $1.8 billion (who’s counting? They’re not) deficit. Every program sounded good. Every union raise and new benefit was for “fairness.” But any spending cut they might pass means they’re taking something away from somebody. And Progressives’ union sugar daddies, who deliver votes and dollars, hold tight to what they’ve already won.

We doubt that our liberal legislators will jerk from their arms the spending needles that mainline their votes and campaign dollars. That leaves us, the taxpayers, first in line to solve their spending problem. Our advice: Grab your wallets! Progressives are on the prowl for them.


Oregon Gov. Kate Brown And AG Ellen Rosenblum Blaze The Oregon Trail Of Political Patronage

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

By Adam Andrezejewski, Contributor,

Opinions expressed by Forbes contributors are their own

As the state contemplates an income tax hike, Oregon’s elites line their pockets with taxpayer money.

In 2016, as politicians across America were fleeing voter wrath, Oregon’s governor and attorney general were blazing an unlikely trail – accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from businesses with state contracts…

Our analysis at American Transparency ( found 207 state contractors gave $805,876 in campaign cash to Governor Kate Brown ($518,203) and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum ($287,673) since 2012. These businesses hold lifetime state contracts worth at least $2.6 billion. State contractor donations to the governor and attorney general represent 57 percent of current cash on hand in their campaign committees…

We Respond & Your Comments

So Guv Kate’s “committed to getting the big money out of politics.” Right. Reminds us of the would-be priest who prayed “Lord, bless me with poverty, chastity and obedience – but not just yet.”

Guv Kate & AG Ellen have done quite well with lots of the big corporations that Progressives are supposed to hate. Portland General Electric, for instance, graced Kate with $31,000 and has over $250,000 in Beaver State contracts.

We could go on. And we will. In coming issues of Lane Solutions we’ll launch a new feature titled “Kate & Ellen’s Buds,” where we’ll reveal contributions from and deals with these gals’ best buds. We think it’ll be fun. Stay tuned in.


Lawmakers, lobbyists call for changes to Measure 98

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

By Anna Marum | The Oregonian/OregonLive 

Last November…Oregon voters overwhelmingly approved Ballot Measure 98.

The measure promised to get many more students to earn diplomas by allocating $800 per student for career-technical courses, college-credit classes and dropout intervention programs in high schools.

But with the Legislature facing a $1.8 billion budget gap and as some critics point out weak points in the measure, what is delivered could differ…

In her December budget proposal, Gov. Kate Brown recommended allocating just $139 million to the programs in the measure…

We Respond & Your Comments

It passed – 65% – 34%. Who could be against Measure 98? After all, it was “for the children.”

Guv Kate endorsed it. But she and her government buds never thought out:

  • It’s going to cost close to $300 million over 2 years. Where’s that coming from?
  • Small, rural school districts won’t get enough to accomplish any of 98’s goals;
  • It’s going to cannibalize other, established education programs.

Or maybe they did think it out and ignored these and other flaws in 98. Why? For the same reason Oregon AFL-CIO and the Oregon Democratic Party endorsed 98. Any money, no matter how little, that creates education programs creates union jobs.

And union jobs create union dues. And union dues morph into campaign contributions for Democrats.

So it really doesn’t make any difference if these programs are good, bad, or just plain ugly, does it?


“Huge betrayal”: Kate Brown angers veterans with cuts despite Measure 96

Thursday, December 29, 2016

By Hillary Borrud

Oregon veterans are taking Gov. Kate Brown to task for proposing millions of dollars less for services than voters might have assumed when they passed Measure 96 in November.

Measure 96 was the most popular measure on the fall ballot, winning 84 percent to 16 percent. It sets aside 1.5 percent of Oregon Lottery funds for services such as education, housing, health care and helping veterans better access their benefits. That’s expected to hit more than $18 million over the next two years.

Brown’s budget, revealed last week, includes that funding as directed. But at the same time, it would spend $10 million less from the general fund than it does in the current budget…

Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, who was a leading advocate for Measure 96, called the governor’s budget proposal “a slap in the face to Oregon voters.”…

We Respond & Your Comments

If Guv Kate, or for that matter, any other politician wants to know why citizens’ trust in and approval of government is as low as it is, all they have to do is read the 141 words above

Or they could just read this summary:

  • Citizens of Oregon gathered enough signatures to put Measure 86 on the ballot;
  • 86% of voters approved it;
  • The governor they elected responded: Go fry ice. I don’t care what you want.

When Kate’s running again and bleating that “Oregon’s brave veterans are my top priority”, she thinks Oregonians will forget what she did to them in 2016. Will we let them?


Oregon Health Authority Salaries Show Sharp Rise Under Saxton

Thursday, December 15, 2016

By Chris Gray, The Lund Report

The state agency has hired 862 more employees since 2013 and increased salaries on upper management by 18 percent, helping to drive a 29 percent overall increase in payroll.

…even as it forecasts a hole of $1.1 billion for the 2017-2019 biennium…

We Respond & Your Comments

Only in government can employees increase dramatically and salaries rise sharply even as you project a big drop in revenue.

But then only in government can you legally pick someone’s pocket, label it his “far share,” call it a “contribution,” and when you spend it tell the guy whose pocket you emptied that it was an “investment.”


Gov. Brown proposes budget with series of cuts, tax and fee hikes

Thursday, December 15, 2016

By Taylor W. Anderson, The [Bend] Bulletin

SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown today released her proposed budget that bridges a $1.8 billion budget deficit through a series of tax hikes and by asking lawmakers to give state agencies about $1 billion less than what they say they need to meet rising costs.

Still, the proposal would lead to state spending that at $20.6 billion would be about 9 percent above what lawmakers agreed to spend in the current, two-year budget that ends July 1, 2017…

We Respond & Your Comments

Make no mistake – Guv Kate. is outraged at these “cuts.”  “The budget includes significant cuts at a level I find absolutely unacceptable,” she declared in a presser.

Of course they’re “unacceptable.” That’s because government can never do with less money. You can. We can. But government? Puleeeze. We don’t suppose she saved a morsel of righteous outrage over the 9 percent increase in spending.

Herewith some predictions about the coming months:

  • You’ll hear liberals bleating about “investing” in this or that program;
  • You’ll learn that most every program must be fully funded because it’s “For the children;”
  • You’ll hear increasingly hysterical calls for evil corporations and greedy rich Oregonians to pay “Their fair share.”

And did we mention that Kate wants to bond out another half billion bucks? $300 million would go for home loans to people banks won’t lend to. Haven’t we seen this movie before?


The path forward after Measure 97’s defeat (Opinion)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chuck Sheketoff,

…The measure’s defeat could not come at a worse time, as Oregon stares at a $1.4 billion shortfall for the upcoming budget period.

While corporations as a group are getting away with paying little in income taxes, we have no way of knowing which corporations are the worst tax avoiders, and which tax loopholes they use to pay nothing — or next to nothing — in taxes. Right now, that information is not public…

The other top priority in the 2017 session is for lawmakers to muster the will to raise new revenue…

Even opponents of Measure 97, such as former Gov. John Kitzhaber, acknowledge that “corporate Oregon can afford to contribute quite a bit more to support” schools and other key public services….

Ultimately, it is up to lawmakers to move forward with a plan that indeed asks large corporations to pay “quite a bit more.” …

Chuck Sheketoff is executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

We Respond & Your Comments

Dear Mr. Sheketoff:

We have a few questions based on your guest editorial:

  • If corporate tax information “is not public”, how on Earth do you and disgraced Ex Guv Kitz know that they’re “getting away with paying little in income taxes,” or that they “can afford to contribute quite a bit more…”? The short answer is: You don’t.
  • Are you aware that “new revenue” will go straight to PERS benefits? How does that help little Johnny and Suzie learn to read better?
  • Since when are moneys confiscated under threat of imprisonment labeled “contributed”?

We eagerly await your response.


The Editors, Lane Solutions