December 9, 2003
MANNIX OUTLINES PLAN TO EASE BUDGET CRISIS, SAVING $1 BILLION
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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