Legislative Spotlight by Taxpayer Association of Oregon
“Extraordinary.” That’s how Rep. Matt Wingard describes the most recent legislative session that featured a split House and the first ever co-Speaker’s office.
“Republicans were able to prevent tax increases, keep fee increases to a bare minimum, and ensure that we live within our means,” said Wingard. “I’m always pleased when I and my like-minded colleagues can stop tax increases.” Wingard, a vocal proponent of charter schools and public education reform, also expressed satisfaction that the 2011 Legislature approved what he believes are “the most significant education reforms in state history.” Among other things, these reforms support and encourage charter schools and the statewide virtual school, which will expand educational choices for parents and students. And, thanks to educational service district reform, school districts will be free to shop for better, more cost-effective services.
“Oregon needs high-quality public schools. I’m pleased that we took a giant step forward in the right direction this session.”
Despite the session’s success, Wingard expressed disappointment that the Legislature failed to pass key job creation legislation put forward by his Republican colleagues, saying he hopes that changes come February. While Oregon’s 18% real unemployment troubles the lawmaker, more troubling is the fact that Oregon’s per capita income is 9% below the national average.
“In today’s economy, even when Oregonians work, they’re often poor,” said Wingard.
According to the lawmaker, Oregon’s depressed per capita income can’t simply be blamed on a bad regional economy. Washington, whose per capita income was roughly the national average in the 1990s and largely mirrored Oregon’s, now enjoys a per capita income higher than national average. Oregon’s meanwhile has plummeted.
“High taxes, excessive regulation, and onerous land use laws are preventing us from creating an environment conducive to economic growth. We have to confront these issues head on.”
Wingard also said that the current fight in Congress over spending cuts and the debt ceiling makes it even more imperative that Oregon enacts necessary economic reforms.
“The nation’s fiscal problems aren’t going away. The only way for Congress and the President to get our fiscal house in order is to cut spending. In the future, this will mean less federal money for states. All the more reason we need to get Oregon working again.”