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Measure 30 -- the Mannix plan

Mannix proposes plan for budget cuts so we don't have to raise taxes. Opponents point out that he doesn't know what he's talking about.
The Oregonian

December 9, 2003

MANNIX OUTLINES PLAN TO EASE BUDGET CRISIS, SAVING $1 BILLION

Author:
HARRY ESTEVE - The Oregonian

Summary: The GOP party chairman says his ideas could be a landmark
opportunity, but critics say it is a rehash of ideas already
discarded

Oregon could soothe its budget crisis by canceling pay increases for
teachers and rescinding one-time bonuses promised to state workers
and managers in lieu of raises, Oregon Republican Party Chairman
Kevin Mannix said Monday.

Those were among a list of nearly two dozen proposals Mannix offered
as a way to save the state $1 billion.

Mannix, who made an unsuccessful bid to become governor last year,
said he was being a "good citizen" by designing a plan to
balance the budget if voters overturn an $800 million tax increase
the Legislature passed in August to plug the state's budget holes.

"This can be a landmark decision-making opportunity for the
state as to whether we are going carry on business as usual or commit
ourselves to a path of reform," he said.

Critics immediately panned the list, calling it a rehash of ideas
that were brought up during this year's eight-month legislative
session and discarded as unworkable, unfeasible or unrealistic.

"It's no exaggeration to say that every one of these proposals
was examined in depth during the course of the session," said
Rep. Lane Shetterly, R-Dallas, who was chairman of the House Revenue
Committee.

Mannix released his list of money-saving proposals just as campaigns
on both sides of the tax issue are gearing up for the Feb. 3 special
election. Because of its sweeping scope and broadly defined savings,
the plan probably will be viewed more as a political move than as a
road map for a new budget.

Mannix was among the first to call for a citizen uprising to refer
the tax increase to the ballot. If Measure 30 fails, lawmakers could
be forced to reopen the 2003-05 budget or allow cuts to schools,
health programs and public safety outlined in legislation passed last
fall. Mannix's plan "doesn't particularly help," Shetterly
said.

Reaction from Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office was muted.

"Every citizen has a right to petition their government,"
said Kulongoski's spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn. "We'll look at
these suggestions the way we would any other suggestion."

The strongest statements came from public employee unions, who see
Mannix's proposals as an excuse to do further damage to their
members' paychecks.

"That's the secret plan, huh?" said Kris Kain, head of the
Oregon Education Association, which represents teachers statewide.
"I don't think it's very realistic."

The biggest problem, Kain and others said, is that it would require
local school districts and the state to break or renegotiate
collective bargaining agreements that have been signed and are under
way. That invites stalemate or litigation -- neither of which the
state needs now, they said.

"This is a pundit's proposal," said Mary Botkin, who
lobbies for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees. "It's easy for him because he doesn't have any
responsibility" for the budget, she said.

Even groups that joined Mannix in opposing the tax increase had
little praise for his budget ideas.

"We think it falls short," said Richard Burke, executive
director of the Oregon Libertarian Party. "It's a timid set of
proposals that looks at our budget in a piecemeal manner and does
nothing to fix the defects in state budgeting."

The plan contains little that hasn't already been proposed by
conservatives, said Russ Walker, Oregon director of Citizens for a
Sound Economy. Walker's group is leading the campaign to defeat
Measure 30.

"At least it illustrates the point that there are lots of
options" for balancing the budget, Walker said.

In addition to his proposals to cut state spending, Mannix also
called on broader reforms, such as a constitutional spending limit, a
commission that would review spending and priorities of all state
agencies and annual legislative sessions.

He called on Kulongoski to begin taking steps now to rein in
spending in anticipation of voter rejection of the tax increase in
February.

Glynn said the governor already has taken many of the steps in
Mannix's plan, such as consolidating the state motor pool, using the
state's purchasing power to lower the cost of equipment and supplies
and instituting a wage and hiring freeze.

Mannix called his list "a work in progress," and
acknowledged that many already have been discussed at length. But he
said they provide an alternative from the threats of early school
closures and cut-off health benefits that have accompanied the tax
debate.

"Citizens are sick and tired of that approach," he said.



Sidebar/THE MANNIX PLAN

Oregon Republican Party Chairman Kevin Mannix released a list of
proposed budget changes that he said would save the state at least $1
billion. Here are some highlights of the list, which included nearly two dozen money-saving proposals:

* Freeze pay for all state-funded workers -- $300 million
* Require PERS savings to be used for K-12 schools -- $150 million
* Use the state's ending balance -- $135 million
* Implement Gov. Ted Kulongoski's efficiency plan -- $100 million
* Abolish CIM/CAM programs in public schools -- $20 million
* Consolidate all state Internet and e-mail systems -- $20 million
* Clamp down on delinquent taxpayers -- $10 million
Measure 30 is foolish 12.Jan.2004 15:32

Anna Flaming

I am a high school student and cannot vote. Vote for me. Vote no on measure 30!

Oregon does not need the government deciding when they deserve a raise. Oregon has no need for more taxes. Oregon has no need for a larger government.

Cut teachers' pay. They are already payed 46% more than you are. We have 17 prisoners on death row that are still eating. We do not need the government to take the little money earn from working at MacDonalds after we were laid off. We do not need to drive off companies that would come to Oregon.

We do not need Measure 30 to pass. Measure 30 is a bad idea. Vote for me. Vote no on Measure 30.

Thank-you

Anna, the high school student, is wrong. 21.Jan.2004 22:37

Someone who worked on the law

Anyone advocating against Ballot measure 30 has the responsibility to propose an alternative solution. The budget cuts that will automatically go into effect if the measure fails are not acceptable alternatives because they will result in real cuts in services to people who need them. Without the tax increase in Measure 30, school years will shorten, Oregon Health Plan clients will have to go without medicine, and prisoners who deserve to be locked up will be released. Schools, Public Safety, and Human services programs such as the Oregon Health Plan represent the vast majority of government spending in Oregon. Some people say, if you have to make cuts, don't cut eduction, or don't cut the OHP. But there are no other sources of money big enough.

Even many anti tax activists agree that if Measure 30 fails, the cuts will be unacceptable. They argue instead that we can have it both ways, that we can make do without the revenue that measure 30 would generate, and that we can still maintain service that are the most important. These people claim that we can save $800 million dollars by eliminating government waste and corruption. But is it really possible that such a vast some of money is simply being wasted? People who think so must view government as some kind of evil conspiracy managed by incompetents. In reality, government is a group of people, most of who are very capable and invested in Oregon's future, working to provide services that a democracy needs in order to function. They are not overpaid, by the way. Nearly all government employees make less money than they would in equivalent private sector jobs. American state governments must be the most scrutinized bureaucracies in the world. It is simply impossible that vast amounts of money could be misappropriated by corrupt officials or squandered by the incompetent. To be sure, there is waste in government just like in any organization. But democrats and republicans alike prefer to eliminate waste before they cut programs. Now, after four years of budget shortfalls, all of the easy cuts have been made, all of the big and obvious sources of waste have been fixed. If Oregonians want lower taxes now, they must know that it means eliminating services that many people desparatly need.

People who claim that eliminating waste in government cannot be taken seriously for the simple reason that when you ask them, "exactly what waste in what departments would you eliminate and how much money would that save?" they cannot answer. The only comprehensive alternative to measure 30 that has been put forward so far is the so called Mannix Plan. That plan has so many problems that activists both for and against measure 30 united in shooting it down. Most of the cuts listed the Mannix plan were considered by the legislature at one point or another and then discarded as unworkable.

Measure 30 is the least harmful of several unpleasant options. No one likes higher taxes, but the tax increases for the vast majority of people will be very small, under $50 per year. It is worth it. I encourage everyone to vote yes on measure 30.