It would be a reassuring development if Oregon legislators could collectively announce the truth about the amount available in the treasury for state use in the upcoming biennium.
Additionally, instead of once again casting aspersions and more blame on Democrats by Republicans and vice versa that, after announcing what’s available for state programs, they let us taxpayers know what each party wants to do with what money is available, the amounts each will try to get allocated here and there, invite feedback from their respective constituents, and provide all to the media for circulation.
Instead, we receive mixed signals from the media sources that reports on the grousing or cheering of those going to Salem. Meanwhile, there are plenty of mixed signals to go around. Just two of them follow here.
The Oregonian, in discussing money available to support public education and referencing what Governor Kate Brown has announced, reported in its Dec. 25 edition “It’s unclear how much money will go to either proposed (education funding) plan with a $1.7 billion deficit bearing down on the state and threatening to devastate educational funding.”
Two days before The Oregonian’s piece on the subject, District 25 Rep. Bill Post, wrote in the Keizertimes, that “the truth is, we have a windfall of state revenues, to the tune of an 8.5 percent increase over the last biennium (and that’s after a 14 percent increase in revenue in the previous biennium, making a total of 22.5 percent increase in revenue since 2013).”
Governor Brown, a Democrat, and Representative Bill Post, a Republican, are obviously operating from two different worlds on the same planet. Yet, they are both players at the Capitol and should be working together—with some give and take—to the benefit of all Oregonians. So it comes across as just asking the same old question: Who am I to believe?
Reality is that the rhetoric goes on with fighting over the “true” numbers and “the truth is” kind of statements made by self-proclaimed masters of the universe in each party.
It all adds up to a population of too often discouraged and disillusioned—primarily Main Street citizens—who look seldom to our elected officials for much of anything except, maybe, the “entertainment” of political pugilistics. Those among them who can lie the best, it would seem, get sent back to the Capitol year-after-year to repeat the same dance dictated mainly by the special interests who arrive with bags of campaign chest money and private perks, demanding personal favors in return. Unfortunately, with many pressing state issues to address and resolve, we run-of-the-mill types on the receiving end get little to nothing back for the many tax bucks we are forced to pay.
When Measure 97 failed in the November election, Oregon media widely urged the legislature to “Do something!” It is expected here that since our state leaders would rather fight than do something together in statesmanship fashion, there will continue to be a major shortfall in funds with absolutely no way, other than the futility of going after PERS’ retirees again, to do something about it. As Oregon legislators a few years back were so fond of repeating, all the while giggling in their inimitable childish delight, when cooperation was called for, that will happen “When pigs fly!”
(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)