Editorial: Measure 66-67 tax-budget battle truths


Below a great Measure 66 and Measure 67 opinion
The Albany Democrat Herald Editorial

In the run-up to the Jan. 26, 2010, tax election [Measure 66 -Measure 67], you will hear more than once that the 2009 legislature already cut the budget by $2 billion and defeating the measures would result in further cuts. Further cuts would depend on what the legislature actually does, but what about the slashing the legislature has already done? It turns out that the cuts were made not from actual spending of the previous budget period, but from proposed higher spending this period.

The governor and the legislature started the budget deliberations with what they call an “essential budget level.” For the general fund, which includes education, human services, public safety and the courts, natural resources, administration and other programs including the legislature itself, this “essential” but theoretical level was pegged at $16.2 billion for the 2009-11 budget period.

The “essential” level was up about $2 billion from the approved budget for 2007-09, and when it was cut about $2 billion, that left the biennial budget now in effect at about $14.2 billion, almost the same as the nearly $14.4 billion budget in effect for 2007-09, or down about 1 percent.

(Don’t ask how the current budget compares to actual spending last biennium. Those numbers won’t be available for months.)

The state budgeting system, covering two years at a time as it does, results in higher than expected increases from one budget to the next as a matter of course. Every time the legislature adds a program “” authorizes more troopers, say “” toward the end of a biennium, continuing that level of expense for the entire ensuing two years necessarily raises budget levels more than you would routinely expect.

Still, this hasn’t exactly been a routine year for lots of Oregon taxpayers. These are the Oregonians who, dependent on the level of the economy, are living on frozen or reduced pay, if they’re still able to earn a living at all.

On their behalf, it is worth pointing out that in the case of state budgeting, the much-quoted cut of $2 billion actually left the budget almost unchanged from the last biennium to this. (hh)

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Posted by at 06:53 | Posted in Measure 37 | 29 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • state employee

    OK, there’s growing population, higher expenses per state employee — don’t let the secret out, but people with steady employment in the private world are getting pay increases. Flat budget though, unless the public is willing to be taxed more. Result: you are going to get less public services. Don’t like it? You make your choices, you live with them.

    You Republicans want to smash the public employees? Bring it on!

    • Tax Payer

      Gladly, trough feeder!

    • Just A Guy

      Any time, any where. It’s scum like you who should be laid off first.

      What’s happening in the private sector all that great? Then quit your cushy, worthless job and go there instead, moron.

      • state employee

        You think working for the state is so great? Apply for a job then, you knuckledragging squatter.

        If you idiots weren’t such lousy businessmen, Oregon would have a decent economy. You’d have to find something else to whine about.

        • Tax Payer

          Why don’t you quit public leech? C’mon out into the real world instead of hiding behind your crooked union and unsustainable benefit package. Practice what you preach parasite.

          • state employee

            You losers are so jealous of our benefit packages. Then look for a job with a comparable benefit package if you think it’s so great. Be sure to look at overall compensation, if you’re capable of understanding that concept. You want to be able to retire early? Then put 16% or so of your total compensation into your 401k, like we’re forced to do. You might even try applying for a state position if you think it’s so great. But then you wouldn’t have anything to bitch and moan about anymore, would you?

            But it’s more fun being trash, isn’t it?

    • Anonymous

      Where are they? In reference to “don’t let the secret out, but people with steady employment in the private world are getting pay increases.” I know individuals who have received pay cuts, not including those who received pink slips, but where is the evidence that Oregon average working wage is on an upward slant?

      • state employee

        Don ‘t have info for Oregon in particular, but for the nation as a whole, you can find it in the Wall St. Journal a while back. Google around and you’ll find it. If you can’t find it, let me know, as a good public servant, I’ll give you a hand.

  • John Fairplay

    Actually, it’s misleading to talk only about the General Fund budget. The state’s all-fund budget is growing very quickly and will increase by billions in real terms in the current two-year period, regardless of the outcome of Measure 66 & 67.

    In addition, it’s important to note that if the General Fund budget is “flat” in the current two-year period (and it’s not), the 07-09 budget represented an increase of more than 20 percent from the 05-07 budget. State government has shown healthy (for them – toxic for the rest of us) funding growth even in a questionable decade economically for Oregonians. It’s time for them to tighten their belts as the rest of us have.

    • David from Eugene

      Actually it is the “All Funds Budget” number that is misleading. First of all, the All Funds Budget number includes inter-fund, intra- and inter-department transfers. These have the effect of artificially multiplying a state expenditure by reporting it more than once.

      Consider state mail; most state offices do not put a stamp on the letter and drop it in a mail box. Instead, their out going mail is picked up and taken in the case of Salem, to one of two Mail Processing Centers; one is operated by Department of Administrative Services and the other by Garten Services through a no bid contract with DAS. DAS bills the department for the out going mail and reflects that on he DAS balance sheet as income. In the case of mail processed at Garten, DAS pays them for metering, presorting and delivering the mail to the post office. In this case mailing costs show up twice in the All Funds Budget, once in the budget of the department doing the mailing and once on DAS’ Budget.

      In the case of mail processed by the state it is more complex. DAS pays the postage meter company for the postage used, it pays its employees, it pays “rent” on the building, it pays for and maintains the vehicles used to pick up and transport the mail to name but a few of the expenses reflected on its budget. In the case of the “rent” and the vehicles the payments are made to other divisions of DAS who report them on the balance sheet as income and then account for the expenses providing them (in the case of “Rent” utilities, janitorial services, bond payments and maintenance) on their budget. As some of these departments also get services from other state agencies they also report the income and the expenses they accrue in providing those services. As a result part of the money that a department pays for mailing services can be reported three or more times in the All Funds budget.

      Mail Services is not the only item in the State Budget that sees this multiplier effect. All other central services as well as legal services, fleet maintenance and motor pool are similarly affected. As a result a portion of the all funds budget in internal funds transfers which artificially inflates the resulting total. Or to put in another way, the State is really spend less money then the All Funds budget reflects

      While this accounting method does make figuring out the full state budget number very difficult, it does provide an effective way to identify the real costs associated with providing a particular governmental service.

      The Next problem with the “All Funds Budget” is that it includes the income and expenditures from Federal Programs administered by state agencies. For example; Food Stamps is a federal program funded by Congress that the State of Oregon administers. Since the funding for this program goes through a state agency it is reflected on that agency’s books. So when the Federal Government increases Oregon’s Food Stamp payments the all funds budget goes up. A similar effect is caused by Federal Road and Transportation Projects administered by ODOT like those in the Federal Stimulus Bill.

      The Last problem with the all funds budget is the sale of distilled spirits and lottery tickets. As all the liquor stores in Oregon are state owned the cost of operating them, fully recovered from their sales, is part of the OLCC budget. An increase of liquor sales increases the OLCC budget, revenues to the state and the “All Funds Budget”

      These factors make the “All funds Budget” number a completely misleading indicator of state government spending. The General fund number is a less misleading figure.

      • state employee

        Don’t try to confuse them with facts and logic! It’s hopeless anyway your kind of reasoning is way above their level.

  • Zero

    OK you keep posting the Democrat Herald columns. One newspaper out 100 in Oregon when the others will support Measure 66-67 or at least support one of the ballot measures to play both sides.

    • capor

      Prove it

  • Anonymous

    Yeah that’s right we need less service. The decades long mission creep with inflated compensation packabrought back to affordable and justified levels of goverment.

    Take out most of the PR and planning expenses for one.

  • Bob Clark

    Yes, the state does such a good job of providing services to citizens, the government employees need to out spend on an order of magnitude opposition groups inorder to secure their operation and essentially buy off politicians. When the government employee unions have an effective political counterforce with similar monetary backing, then maybe the citizens can start to trust the state government.

    So far, the state has been closed for furlough days, and yet citizens are not clamoring to restore these days. In fact probably just the opposite. I think this tells us there are significant efficiences to be had by limiting the ranks of state government and at least some of the “services” it provides.

    • state employee

      Fine, Bob, more furlough days! Close the whole damn thing down if you want.

  • Diamond Jim Franconni

    I only know one thing for sure. If the state has to cut anywhere then innocent people will die.
    I am willing to pay more to make sure this does not happen.

    • Just A Guy

      Really? How much extra money are you sending in every month? How much more are you paying on your taxes then you have to?

      What’s that?

      None?

      Didn’t think so.

      Here, what YOU want is for all of US to “pay more,” but you damned sure aren’t paying it now.

      • Anonymous

        Take it easy, pal. Diamond Jim is just Jerry Dawson’s liberal alter ego. Jerry likes to think of himself as a political satirist, sort of a Stephen Colbert of the far right. It’s probably best just to humor him and let him think he’s funny.

    • Marvin McConoughey

      Good grief!! “If the state has to cut anywhere then innocent people will die.” Gosh, who would have thought that cutting down on the office ballpoint pen supply would result in fatalities. How does that work?

  • matthew vantress

    the all funds budget increased 5 to 6 billion this biennium.the state has a 54 billion all funds budget with a 2 billion surplus now yet the public is bald faced lied to that the state has a shortfall when they actually have a surplus.

  • Jack

    state employee said: You Republicans want to smash the public employees? Bring it on!

    Jack said: No just want to make you a Privater Sector employee and Defeat 66-67.

    • Anonymous

      Bah! Humbug!

    • state employee

      Hate to break the bad news, but my services are in high demand. Very unlikely I’ll get laid off even if the tax increases fail.

      • Tax Payer

        Now that would be a Christmas present for everyone, good riddance!

        • state employee

          Like I said, I won’t get laid off, tax increase or not. My services are in high demand.

          Too bad you can’t even read. I suppose you blame that on the public schools, instead of your own laziness and stupidity?

  • Pat Ryan

    Спасибо за Ваш труд!!

    Absolutely the most coherent argument against 66/67 so far.

    Merry Christmas to all…………………..

  • DD

    Has anyone thought about the fact that the millions of dollars state employee unions are spending to increase our taxes by supporting Measures 66 & 67 are paid for BY the taxpayers?

    In essence, thanks to SEIU and AFSCME and OEA getting paid with our tax dollars, they are able to increase our taxes and get even more money for themselves.

    Anyone else see anything GLARINGLY WRONG with this picture?

    • Anonymous

      Do you mean because the source of state employee income is our tax dollars?

      Teachers, police, firefighters, clerks, etc all earn their money, yeah? They’re not stealing it from us, right? Can we at least agree on this much? They themselves are taxpayers are they not?

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