Local Candidate's View of State's Special Budget Session
A response to "Local Congresswoman's [sic] view of state's special budget session", Molalla Pioneer, February 20, 2002, at 5
Our state representative thinks that "the most critical aspect" of the plan for responding to a recession-induced decline in tax revenues "is that it was formed with bipartisan agreement and testimony was taken from all groups across Oregon . . .". Once upon a time, Republicans did not feel it was their highest duty to hold hands with the Democrats and sing Kumbaya. But now both Republicans and Democrats seem to have become, to borrow a phrase from Pat Buchanan, two wings of the same bird of prey. Thus the Kumbaya crowd agrees that the voters should not be told directly that the State is taking more and more of their money, which is why Rep. Smith refers to $350 million in "revenue enhancement", and calls borrowing an additional $100 million "buy[ing] more bonding".
And the Kumbaya crowd is happy to base policy on the testimony of special interests, who don't represent ordinary Oregonians at all. One Hillsboro grassroots activist who attended the hearings explains: "Apart from yours truly, there were very few people in the room who were not wearing expensive three piece suits and sporting all sorts of initials and titles after their names, like Dr. this or CEO that; M.D., Ph.D, D.M.D. You name it, they were there. The funny thing is, they all had their hand out."
"I was amazed at the high caliber of beggars we have here in Oregon. These folks, who if their clothes are any indication live in a MUCH nicer house than mine, were asking for MY money and yours. And they weren't asking me. They were asking the government to take it from us and give it to them. These very expensive and busy people waited HOURS... one after the other. . . to assure our governor and legislators that the poor will die homeless in the streets if we don't give them more money."
Once upon a time, state representatives did more than a flyover of state budgets at 60,000 feet, and didn't trust the bureaucrats and the special interests to tell them how to spend their constituents' money. Representative Smith notes that there were some spending cuts—such as a measly $1.4 million out of ODOT's budget. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that when we have an army of transportation bureaucrats putting bike lanes where there are no bikes and harassing businesses about their driveways, there is much more to cut than that. We might also ask why convicts have cable TV that many voters can't afford.
After watching the budget process unfold this year, the aforementioned activist concluded: "Folks, I am here to tell you that if we grassroots don't rise up and take responsibility for our government, there are very fine and professional people out there already lined up to do it for us... and they aren't interested in our best interest." Unless and until Oregon's state representatives are willing to confront the special interests down in Salem -- and the Democratic Party that funds them -- Oregonians will pay more and more for less and less services from our State.
James Buchal, March 6, 2002