A Bleak Election Day for Oregon Taxpayers

Right From the Start

Election Day 2012 was not a good day for conservatives anywhere and particularly not in Oregon. The Democrats, backed by Oregon’s public employee unions, swept every statewide office. They re-took control of both houses of the state legislature.

The slate of Republican candidates for statewide office, with the exclusion of Knute Buehler, was so weak that it was brushed aside with no significant effort. The Oregon business community was so stingy with its contributions to Knute Buehler that he was forced to provide for a significant portion of his campaign from his own pocketbook while his opponent, Kate Brown made her leisurely three calls to the public employee unions (AFL-CIO, SEIU and OEA) to obtain all of the funding directly and indirectly she needed to win. The opportunity for Republicans to win in Oregon is practically non-existent and will remain so as long as state and local governments collect and remit all the campaign resources required by the public employee unions on a quarterly basis.

Here are three things that you can expect from the Democrat controlled government over the next two years.

  1. Individual income tax rates will increase for those earning above $100,000. The current level of taxation simply does not provide sufficient revenues for all of the programs adopted by the legislature in the past. This shortfall has been double downed by the massive increase in the cost of PERS for the benefit of the public employee unions.
  2. A sales tax will be proposed by Governor Kitzhaber and the legislature will approve referral of it to the voters. There will be a sufficient number of Republicans to meet the supermajority requirement as there always is. That sales tax will be sizeable because, in order to garner the votes of those who do not currently pay taxes, significant exemptions will be required – food, drugs, and rent. The alternative will be to provide a “means tested” exemption from paying the taxes. (Newspapers will also be exempted in order to ensure their support of the measure.) While the sales tax will be described as tax reform, it will simply add a third leg to the stool with no significant diminution in either the income tax or property tax.
  3. Mr. Kitzhaber has established a “blue ribbon” commission to deal with the loss of federal “timber payments.” Those timber payments were originally adopted as a temporary support mechanism when the withdrawal of federal forests from timber harvests threatened local governments who were heavily dependent on the timber industry as their dominant employer. The theory was that the timber payments would allow local communities to “realign” their economic development to provide employment opportunities for displaced loggers – that’s one of those “head up your butt” ideas originated from Washington, D.C. by people who have never visited a rural community that would have never existed but for the timber that surrounds it.

The blue ribbon commission is composed of timber people and environmentalists. The commission has not been formed to find a workable solution to increase timber harvests and thus again provide a revenue stream to local governments. Instead, because the environmentalists will never agree to a timber harvest for profit, the commission will stumble along until midway through the legislative session when it will be presented a “solution” by Mr. Kitzhaber. Mr. Kitzhaber’s solution will have the state government replace the lost federal funds but in order to so, the members of the commission will have to support one or more of the tax increases Mr. Kitzhaber will propose. The effected rural communities (traditionally Republican strongholds) will be forced to support the tax increases or face elimination of services (including public safety services) by local governments.

Make no mistake, Oregon is on the path toward continuous tax increases coupled with continuous spending increases – mostly for the benefit of the public employee unions. And this path will continue so long as the Democrats are able to convince voters that only the rich will have to pay for their excesses. Meanwhile good paying jobs will continue to decline and businesses will look elsewhere to locate, continue and expand their enterprises.


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Posted by at 10:23 | Posted in 2012 Election, Gov. Kitzhaber, Public Employee Unions, Public Employees Retirement System, State Taxes | 190 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • 3H

    Didn’t Knute outspend Kate? It doesn’t sound like you want anything remotely resembling a balanced race. You simply want an uneven playing field so that your side has every chance to win while minimizing the chances of those you disagree with.

  • mbecker908

    Elections have consequences. I hope the people of Oregon – and California – enjoy starving to death in the dark.

    • DavidAppell

      Nice. If you can’t win, seek revenge and hope for catastrophe.

      And you wonder why you lose.

  • valley person

    I beg to differ with the headline. A majority of Oregon taxpayers, including this one, have concluded that adequate funding for public services, especially education, are a higher priority than lower taxes. We view government as a service provider, and know we have to pay to get those services. Portland, the liberal bastion, voted for not 1, not 2, but 3 tax measures to better fund its schools and libraries. Alabama this is not.

    • voterid

      Higher taxes sure doesn’t equal better education. Public employees should never be unionized.

    • Oregon Engineer

      Why don’t you and the “majority” of oregon taxpayers just send the state more money and leave the rest of us out of your scam. Obviously you are quite convinced the STATE knows how to spend your money better than you.

      • valley person

        Its not “my money” if it is owed as taxes. The “state” is us dude. All of us. Wisdom of the crowd.

        • oregon Engineer

          since it is not your money I think you owe the state 100% of your income and the state can give it back to you as appropriate. Isn’t that just what you said? or did you mean the money forced from you by the people with guns isn’t your money and the state should take more?

          • valley person

            Forced from me by people with guns? I’m nearly 60 and that has yet to happen.

            If you think my tax rate should be 100% then join the Socialist Party and get busy.

          • Oregon Engineer

            If you do not pay the state will send people with guns (police). The threat of force is always present. How much do you think the state should take from you, claiming your money as theirs, before you say enough?

          • valley person

            If your or I refuse to pay taxes we are breaking the law. Ultimately, the law may be backed up by men with guns, but it rarely comes to that with respect to taxes.

            I think the total share of national GDP that government should spend in a modern industrial economy, taking all levels of government into account, should be 40-60%, which is about the range of OECD nations. The US is only slightly below 40%. Now before you freak out, that amount includes fees for direct services like clean water and taking care of sewage. It also includes dedicated taxes that people gladly vote for, like library and fire districts. And it includes electricity bills for those with public power.

            As a practical matter, what difference does it make if we get health insurance from the public or private sector? Aside from the documented fact that publicly provided insurance is cheaper and better?

            Any one of us can find something government is doing that we don’t like or want to pay for. That is easy. But ranting about too much government in general is a waste of oxygen.

          • 3H

            Usually they send nasty letters and lawyers. Then they attach your wages, freeze your accounts, etc… How often do you think they send people with guns?

            I suppose, then, our whole system of private property is based upon the threat of force. Don’t pay off your credit card, eventually they will send men with guns. Take my neighbors Weber, guess what.

            Are you against capitalism because it relies on the threat of force?

          • valley person

            He is displaying the nuttiness of the right. Run a stop sign, and if you don’t pull over for the flashing lights behind you, guys or gals with guns are going to come after you. Its basic law enforcement he is objecting to.

    • jetstream

      I’ll bet your “collecting” from the public teat right?…the taxes don’t bother you because you don’t pay them….you probably are an able body person who got himself on disability because of “stress” or you’re a public worker who likes getting the pension and benefits private workers do not enjoy or you’re already a fat, slobby retiree with a defined pensions that nobody better touch……the takers are all alike in their greed……”the American people deserve what they want and they’re going to get it good and hard”…

      • Dean = parasite

        That’s Dean Apostol (VP) to a T.

      • 3H

        Is that a serious question, or would you prefer to not have reality intrude?

  • Greg Halvorson

    R.I.P. Oregon… a dumbed-down, Godless state of calculating thieves and welfare serfs.

  • Of the 90 Oregon House and Senate legislative seats we hold “EVERY” seat where there is a Republican advantage and a few where there is a Democratic advantage. The only seats we lost had a Democratic advantange in the district. The majority of people are going to vote for their “team”, that’s just human nature. Until we begin to register more Republicans we will continue to have this problem. http://www.MyOregonRights.com

    • valley person

      At the rate you are going, your few advantages will continue to shrink in number. Time is against the party of aging white people. Adapt or go extinct.

    • ardbeg

      GOP=no youth vote, no women’s vote, and no color vote. The GOP had better pull their head out. Voters often keep their allegiances throughout their lifetime and VP is right, the old white guys will be dying off soon. Of course the DEM/GOP monopoly on politics is of no concern to anyone here on the OC. Personally, I voted for Johnson the best overall candidate.

  • DavidAppell

    The opportunity for Republicans to win in Oregon is practically non-existent and will remain so as long as…the party is out of tune with the majority of the electorate. (Though it’s easier to just blame everyone else for your problems.)

    • valley person

      They have become a party of the deep south, and deep south politics do not play well in the north or on either coast. Oregon Republicans need to break from the national party and create a moderate version along the Hatfield-Packwood-Tom McCall lines. Or they can just be a bunch of whiners.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    As I have posited for the past several years – Oregon has reached the point of no return. That point being – where there becomes such a sizable block of voters getting direct benefits from government that it becomes impossible to defeat them. In short, the people have figured out how to vote themselves money. It’s nothing new, just basic greed at work.

    The good news is that since it is greed at work, and we know this from some of the state wide tax votes, I don’t think a sales tax will get anywhere.

    Unlike at the federal level, at the state level voting money is a zero sum game. When you vote money for yourself, it has to come from somebody else. A sales tax isn’t taking from others to give to yourself, people will realize that and I don’t think it will go anywhere if it is a conventional point of sale sales tax.

    • DavidAppell

      You lose because you run candidates like Art Robinson. You lose nationally because you run candidates like Mitt Romney (and he was the best of the bunch), and because Bush left a putrid mess. Obama didn’t win because of the economy, and Romney didn’t lose because of it. He lost because he’s a liar, and a panderer, and had no real plan to make anything better — just some numbers he spouted out, that obviously weren’t supportable. He took people for stupid. Republicans cannot accept the demographic shifts in the US, the arc of civil rights. Romney couldn’t say that women deserve equal pay, and he baldly insulted 47% of the electorate. In other words, he blew it, because he had to pander to the crazy right just to get the nomination.

      The Onion says the early line on the Republican’s leading 2016 candidate is a white hot orb of screaming rage. Please, keep it up — it will make it all that much easier for those who want forward progress in this country.

      • ratsrigelections…

        the dims have owned the US Senate for HOW long now?..8 yrs?…and they have not passed a budget in what?…3 yrs now?….and wasn’t barry soetoro sitting in the Senate when that horrible Bush was in office, and why didn’t the wonderful barry Stop the horrible Bush?…oh…playing golf….FACT: the US economy was cooking and the price of gas was BELOW $2 a gallon when the RATS took over both houses in Wash DC in 2007….THEY are the reason the economy crashed…THEY ran up the bills and THEY held the purse strings…..Convenient little facts to spoil your parade….

        Oregone is indeed gone…you have nothing but public employees…with big fat pensions……Oregone will be back drawing up more plans for more taxation next year and every year…….and each year Portland will continue to be extremely violent, with increasing gang activity and decreasing small business…….congrats folks….you’ve won the Idiot award…..
        “A democracy can not survive once the voters figure out that they can vote themselves in more money.”

        • DavidAppell

          Everyone knows the Senate is dysfunctional, ruined by filibusters that take 60 votes to overturn. (Reid says he wants to fix that — we’ll see.)

          FACT: The average weekly national price of gas, adjusted for inflation, was $1.69/gal in Clinton’s second term (in October 2012 dollars). It was $1.96/gal in Bush1, $3.05/gal in Bush2, and $3.19 in Obama1.

          All of the Republican’s whining is about 14 cents a gallon — 4%, in a world where petroleum demand is going up quickly. Real per capita gas costs are 29% below their peak of 7/24/08 (of $2,042/yr, in Oct12 dollars).

        • DavidAppell

          And employment by the state of Oregon peaked in Nov 1995, at 2.77 employees per 100 population. It’s now at 2.27 — an effective cutback of 17,000 employees, or 18%.

          Hardly “nothing but public employees.” But keep ranting — it’s useful (just not for you).

  • Bob Clark

    I’d say these forecasts are pretty much spot on, except the $100k mark might be more in the $150k to $200k range for taxation of upper middle class. Many government employees now make $100k or more, especially when considering other incomes besides salary. The popular range seems to be $150k individual and $250k couple. However, the income tax rate/structure might not change if the sales tax route is taken (at least initially) instead. Stimson Timber is the only real money out there for the fiscal conservative side, and its interests mainly lie in keeping property tax rates/structure stable and income tax stable. Other local industry and entrepreneurs (Nike/Phil Knight for instance) may have some fight in them against an income tax rate increase; but probably not as much against a sales tax. So, sales tax fight is likely the next big fight; and even if it is successfully turned back, places like Portland will go after a real local income tax ala 2003-2005 Multnomah I tax. If you live in Portland and Multnomah; and are tired of just handing over your hard earned dollars to faceless six figured bureaucrats choosing winners and losers plus the always-failing-no-matter-the-funding-Portland-Public-School-system; GET THE HECK OUT OF PORTLAND AND MULTNOMAH! There may be some hope in Clackamas, and possibly, Tillamook (to name one other). I would offer other low tax rate states/localities but then family and job issues intervene for many. I can’t see moving to Canada as I still believe they are more socialist than even Obama/red state America.

    • DavidAppell

      Is this math you do as a Republican? Oregon state government currently employs 80,300 people. What is the total spent on salaries, wages and benefits? It it were $100 K per employee, it would total $8.0 billion per year, which, needless to say, seems unlikely. So, please define “most.”

      • valley person

        He has one of those broken Republican calculators. Its not his fault. They issue them for free at all Republican events.

    • DavidAppell

      This page has a 2011 survey of state employee salaries, without benefits, and without unpaid furlough leaves:

      Of the 32,234 salaries listed, 893 are $100,000 or above, many for executive positions. That’s 2.8%. The average salary is $50,892.

      It’s clear you are overstating the rate of high paying positions.

  • Guest

    “We’ve raised more money in the history of the Secretary of State’s race than ever before at $975,000…” – Knute Buelher, September 12, 2012.

    I think Knute raised nearly twice the campaign contributions that of Kate Brown did and still lost. Kate Brown’s largest labor contributor, AFSCME, donated $10,000. On the other hand, James Young of Entek and Phil Knight of Nike contributed $90,000 and $50,000 to Buehler, respectively. It’s all there in the state campaign finance reports. Please tell me again– who are the special interests that are undermining our elections?

  • “We’ve raised more money in the history of the Secretary of State’s race than ever before at $975,000…” – Knute Buelher, September 12, 2012.

    I think Knute raised nearly twice the campaign contributions that Kate Brown did and still lost. Kate Brown’s largest labor contributor, AFSCME, donated $10,000. On the other hand, James Young of Entek and Phil Knight of Nike contributed $90,000 and $50,000 to Buehler, respectively. It’s all there in the state campaign finance reports. Please tell me again– who are the special interests that are undermining our elections?

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