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Legislators feel pressure of tax debate

Governor and state legislators need to campaign for yes vote on Measure 30, Feb. 3. So do the rest of us. If you use any state service you have a stake in this. We need to defeat the radical rightwing tax cutters or they will destroy the state.
December 8, 2003

Legislators feel pressure of tax debate

By David Steves
The Register-Guard

SALEM - They spent the longest session in history trying to come up with a
way to pay for schools, human services and other government programs
before finally settling on an $800 million tax increase.

And now that the voters have successfully petitioned for the right to make
that decision themselves, lawmakers and the governor must decide whether
to step up and defend their tax-raising actions last summer.

Even before Wednesday's announcement that the Measure 30 tax
referendum had enough signatures to make the Feb. 3 ballot, Dan Bryant
was lining up a public debate on the issue for the City Club of Eugene. One
of the first people he called was Sen. Frank Morse, an Albany Republican
who supported the package of increased income and business taxes and
other revenue raisers. Morse agreed to speak at the Jan. 9 event. And
Bryant said he hopes other statehouse politicians will be taking a similarly
high profile role in the Measure 30 debate.

"They definitely need to be part of the public discourse, to give us their
insight into the process; why they made the decision that they did," said
Bryant, the club's past president and pastor of First Christian Church in
downtown Eugene.

Oregon State University political scientist Bill Lunch said he, too, sees an
important role for lawmakers to play in the Measure 30 debate. He said that
was especially true for GOP lawmakers who provided the key votes to give
the measure the 60 percent supermajorities required in a
Republican-controlled House and a Senate divided evenly among the two

"I think it is likely that among the Republicans, the folks who voted in favor
of the income-tax surcharge, are going to be very defensive and may not
want to talk about this at all," Lunch said.

With talk of running fiscal conservative primary challengers against
Republicans who supported the revenue plan, Lunch said GOP lawmakers
may not want to remind voters of their role in raising taxes.

Morse was one of those 16 legislative Republicans to support the
three-year increase in income taxes and other tax increases.

But he said despite some fellow Republicans' consternation over his vote,
he has every intention of explaining his decision to voters, in hopes they,
too, will conclude it was the only option after the Legislature's cuts, one-time

fund shifts, and borrowing.

"I think what we did was the right thing and we need to speak to it," he said.
"I have spoken to quite a few groups in my district since the assembly
adjourned and when people understand what we were faced with and the
choices to be made, there's a reconsideration for a lot of folks who had
opposed this."

Kulongoski, who urged passage of the tax plan and signed it into law, also
plans to campaign for Measure 30's passage, said spokeswoman Mary
Ellen Glynn, who added that he won't be the primary spokesman but part of
"a coalition of people" urging Measure 30's passage.

"He's going to be talking about it all next month," Glynn said. "You're going to

hear the governor talk a lot about services, including schools, health care
and the things that are going to be cut" if voters reject the tax package by
defeating Measure 30.

Russ Walker, Northwest director of Citizens for a Sound Economy and
leader of the petition drive to force the referendum vote, said he expected
lots of talk about politicians campaigning for Measure 30, but he isn't
expecting them to take the lead.

"I don't think they will because they know it's unpopular," said Walker, who
questioned how much effort and political capital Kulongoski was willing to
spend trying to pass the tax that polls show lack majority support.

"He'll bring it up in speeches, but I don't think he'll be out there really
fighting for this tax," Walker said.

Morgan Allen, a spokesman for the campaign to pass Measure 30, said his
side's strategy calls primarily for community groups, such as parent teacher
associations and seniors groups, to engage their members in grass-roots
efforts to get voters thinking about passing Measure 30 as a way to prevent
school days from being trimmed, elderly losing care, and public safety
programs from being compromised.

"We feel the best way is if neighbors are talking to neighbors, if people sit
down and talk to their families and realize there could be some very real
impacts if this fails," he said.
First 11.Dec.2003 08:14


You need to stop calling it "rightwing" and "conservative".

It is corporate.

People will never understand the issue so long as you present it as a squabble over fiscal fads.

Not a fiscal fad 05.Jan.2004 13:17

George Bender

Economic politics is not a fad. The basic principles have always been the same. Under any capitalist system money gradually tends to concentrate at the top. Rightwing conservatives try to increase that tendancy to get as much of a nation's income in their hands as they can, impoverishing those at the bottom and sucking energy out of the middle class. Leftists try to counter that tendancy by redistributing income downwards.

Corporations are part of the conservative right and are doing everything they can to grab all the money, but they're not the only ones. Wealthy individuals are doing it too. The problem is broader than corporations. There are things we could do politically to reduce the power of the corporations, but that alone wouldn't solve the problem.

Economics is the most basic thing in politics. Left and right are the only way to describe economic politics.

We should be pushing for living wages for everyone.