Press Release from Senator Ted Ferrioli:
Salem, OR — Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), a vocal advocate for rural Oregon, announced Thursday that he would resign as a member of the Governor’s Federal Forest and County Services Taskforce effective immediately.
“When I heard someone on the taskforce float a “˜trial balloon’ for a proposal for a statewide property tax, I knew it was time to walk,” said Ferrioli.
“While the Governor, the Speaker and the President have been giving lip-service to rural Oregon, these Democrat leaders have turned their backs on the threatening and pressing issues in our communities today,” said Ferrioli. “When it comes to addressing the economic and social crisis in rural Oregon, this taskforce is an exercise in misdirection.”
The Federal Forests and County Services Taskforce was convened by the Governor to develop “recommendations regarding administrative, budgetary, statutory and, if necessary, constitutional changes needed to provide stable and adequate funding for the provision of essential services at the county level,” according to the Governor’s executive order 07-21 creating the task force.
“A special session has come and gone, yet leadership has simply stood by and watched as the Office of Rural Policy was eliminated and Rural Development Initiatives defunded,” said Ferrioli. “The real issues affecting rural Oregon right now remain unaddressed. All I have heard from this committee is “˜revenue restructuring,’ which in my mind are simply code words for a series of tax and fee increases . I believe any “˜revenue restructuring’ will drive tax burdens far beyond the capacity of damaged rural economies and will eventually be rejected by both legislators and citizens.”
This year Oregon’s rural counties are facing a financial crisis due to the loss of federal funding from PL 106-393, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. Also known as federal forest payments, PL 106-393 expired in September of 2006 despite efforts by the Oregon Congressional DelegaÂ¬tion and others to secure an extension. A one-year extension was passed by ConÂ¬gress on May 24 and signed by the President on May 25 as part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.
According to Sen. Ferrioli, “This task force should concern itself with real solutions like job creation, strategies for economic development, reduction of regulatory obstacles and creating immediate flexibility in land use decisions for local authorities,” said Ferrioli.
“To use the pain and fear of economic distress in rural Oregon to leverage tax and fee increases is despicable. Instead of trying to wring more tax and fee revenue out of Oregonians, we should be asking ourselves “˜What services, at no additional cost to taxpayers can state agencies contract to distressed counties to help them continue to deliver services at the local level?'” asked Ferrioli.
“We should, using only available resources, be able to provide services for juvenile justice, mental health, youth and community corrections and a wide variety of other community services currently provided by state agencies through contracting with counties. This strategy would grow jobs, stabilize services and counter the loss of federal revenues without raising taxes. Unfortunately, the task force seems to be driven by people who believe we can tax our way out of economic crisis,” said Ferrioli.