Upcoming Legislative Session: Expect carbon tax & attack on kicker

Sen Doug Whitsett

by Sen. Doug Whitsett

On the eve of the 2014 election, I had high expectations.

I had hoped that the widely predicted national Republican wave would wash over Oregon and result in the kinds of leadership changes so desperately needed in this state. But as the first round of results were revealed, my initial optimism quickly faded and was replaced by the grim realism of what will occur in the many months ahead. It will soon become apparent to Oregonians that elections really do matter, and have consequences.

Although Democrats held majorities in both the Oregon House and the Senate during the 2013 and 2014 sessions, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers was able to prevent the passage of much bad legislation. The 2015 session will be significantly different, as there will be an 18-12 Democratic supermajority in the Senate and a 35-25 majority in the House. While not a supermajority, that margin in the House means that only one Republican would have to side with Democrats in order to create the supermajority required to enact new taxes.

The governor’s proposed budget gives a very clear indication of what to expect throughout the upcoming legislative session. An additional estimated $1.8 billion will be available to spend on state government programs for the next two years. His proposed budgets virtually spends it all. I anticipate that there will be no shortage of special interests lining up to ensure that those dollars will be steered in their direction, instead of into a rainy day fund or returned to the taxpayers who provided them in the first place.

Aside from the direct expenditure of tax dollars, we can also expect to see many pleas made for the spending of funds borrowed through the use of the state’s bonding capacity. There are many capital construction projects that are of questionable value to taxpayers but that could potentially reap large windfalls for entities that are politically well-connected. They include a renovation of the state capitol, even though we still owe millions in debt service on the improvements made to the building in 2007, and the proposed Columbia River Crossing project. The latter was halted only due to a lack of support from our counterparts in the Washington Legislature. I would hesitate to declare that particular multi-billion dollar project as being completely off the table.

Some of the legislative concepts that are taking the form of bills give very clear indications of the majority party’s true intentions and agendas for the session. They include a reduction of the tax deductions that encourage charitable contributions and home ownership, a rollback of part of the small business tax cuts passed during the 2013 special session and the elimination of the supermajority requirement to enact new taxes.

Tax increases are also likely to take a new and different form. The governor and leaders of his party have stated their intention enact a carbon tax that will cost all those who use fossil fuels billions of dollars. My suspicion is that once that new tax is in place, it will result in yet another example of capital cronyism in the name of environmental protection.

A bill implementing low-carbon fuel standards was passed in a previous legislative session, and is scheduled to sunset next year. The timing is very unfortunate. Our bipartisan coalition that has prevented this law from becoming permanent lost two Senate seats in the November election and no longer has the votes to prevent its extension.

Americans are experiencing the lowest energy prices in years due to an unprecedented boom in domestic oil and gas production. It would be unwise to deliberately and unilaterally raise the cost of Oregonians’ fuel for heating their homes and driving to work for the sake of feel-good policies that amount to a hidden gas tax as well as significant increases in the cost of all forms of energy derived from fossil fuels.

We can also expect to see efforts made to abolish or repurpose the popular personal income tax kicker that has historically prevented the state government from spending more money than it takes in. There has been much discussion as well about eliminating the property tax limitations approved by voters that help keep elderly residents, who are on fixed incomes, in their own homes.

Environmental organizations and trial lawyers are likely to be rewarded for their financial support of winning candidates. The payback will take the form of regulations on water, air, toxics, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and more, regardless of the impact this will have on family farmers and ranchers. Trial lawyers will be given expanded avenues for liability and class action lawsuits that have been prevented for the past four years by a single vote in the Senate.

Proposals will also advance that are aimed at increasing the minimum wage, paid sick leave and paid family leave, despite the detrimental effects that they might have on small businesses throughout Oregon.

For my part, I hope to advance an agenda that will further strengthen the ties between the Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Community College and regional K-12 education. My focus will be on developing a bipartisan coalition of Southern Oregon Legislators that will support financing a regional pilot program designed to greatly increase the number and kinds of college courses that are made available to high school students.

I also will support House legislation designed crack down on the kinds of rampant fraud that we’ve seen locally with the state’s food stamp program, as well as supporting further attempts to eradicate the methamphetamine epidemic that continues to devastate our families and communities.

Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Energy, Environment, OR 78th Legislative Session, Oregon Senate, State Taxes | 17 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Moe

    The kicker must go. We need the money for state projects to help those less fortunate than us.
    Please, you would only waste it anyway on stuff you don’t need.

    • guest

      Yo Moe, State PERS, sic ,[haul of swill repute] is in ‘estrous’ to reel in the kicker – toot, a carbon tax would certainly expand the bowels of ‘super majority’ legislative embodiments to flow more freely en-barge, moronic, their scatology; To wit, ‘conscripted’ taxpayers would prefer eliminated back in the farce of government run amok, especially when the chattel drive seems drove toward a bottomless fiscal canyon denoting of “Thelma and Louise” , en such michael moore, recently, sum murky habitat trove, ala Tina and Kate and/or John and Cylvia meme brain.
      Pray tell and advise all common sense civilians to: Smite down and halt the DEM insanity before **it metastasizes further. Omen!

      • Eric Blair

        That didn’t work so well for you in the last election cycle for Oregon, did it?

        • guest

          Nope, U blather dopofscat fallout did snot to overtaxed payers, butt harpooned. .

          • Eric Blair

            Let me put this here… and not in the post by Dave Lister on the Battle of the Bulge. Is it really necessary for you to go and crap in every post? That one was apolitical, and didn’t deserve to have you make a comment like that. You are a complete and total waste of air.

            I hope they remove it.

          • guest

            Urine mebe a whiz in a left wing porta potty, EB,
            butt at OC, d’oh, not so condescendingly.
            In facet, herein hand suggest you take teat with BlueOregon where you can succor more freely, meanwhile cut the diaper rash you left bling to the right side of common sense representation, here! . .

    • MrBill

      Yeah, better to leave it in the hands of my more enlightened superiors.

  • Eric Blair

    It would appear that the poor in Oregon are not a priority for Mr. Whitsett. Don’t pay them higher wages, don’t give them leave to be with their newborns, and harass those that need assistance because of the actions of a few.

    • guest

      Enough snuff you Dem left wing widget. Entitlements galore are bottomless until those who unwittingly pay for more, cannot, in good conscience or purse allow you s’more, snookie!

    • guest

      EB, had your parents supported KPIP – therein, you’d mite not be a mockery attending left wing schlocky malarkey.
      Stop spookin’ with the truth in having bent irresponsible…is no excuse for not being responsible for common sense repertory.

  • Jack Lord God

    I was with a very liberal crowd over Christmas. This was no bunch of nitwits. Most were attorneys, some were judges. I went over some of the taxes being proposed as legislative concepts at this stage by Democrats. All were appalled and felt, as I did, that most were really unconscionable.

    My point is this. These are all people who vote wildly Democrat. These are the same people who were stunned when measure 67 raised taxes on mom and pop businesses.

    Why is this? Why is it normally well informed, educated and intelligent people seem constantly unaware of what the Democrat party in Oregon represents?

    The answer is Democrats vote the way they do largely because of national holistic issues. In other words – no Democrat is voting for Kitzhaber because they can’t wait to see the CRC, or because they hate getting a kicker check.

    They vote the way they do because Democrats support “a woman’s right to choose”, because Democrats favor gay marriage, because Democrats help the poor.

    You think a one of them could pick Cylvia Hayes out of a line up? Not on your life. The fact that these holistic issues are fairly irrelevant in terms of the state legislature matters not. These people won’t vote Republican because they simply see Republicans as not their people on these issues even though they have little meaning in terms of Salem.

    Republicans need to realize this. The genius of Newt Gingrich in 1994 was in nationalizing congressional races. Oregon Republicans need to do the exact opposite if they want to control Salem. They need not get people thinking bout minutiae or specifics, but they need to make state elections about broad spectrum things like tax policy, the outrageous waste of CRC and the like. Make Democrats the bad guy for the insane list of taxes they are now proposing. Why weren’t Democrats made the bad guy over measure 67? In passing the measure Republicans ran nary an ad compaired to the teachers unions who supported it. How about after – an ad of a couple standing in front of a corner store bemoaning having to pay $250 more in taxes in the worst economy in peoples lifetimes was a natural. Where was that? Why is it every Democrat on the planet knows Dick Cheney owned stock in Haliburton but virtually no one knows who Cylvia Hayes is right after a governors election where that should have been a huge issue? Why isn’t the abysmal job growth in Oregon a huge issue? We are the Mississippi of the west in terms of schools and job growth, that’s a recipe for change if ever there was one. Yet Republicans seem to make no mention of these issues in a major way – instead preferring to run a candidate indistinguishable from the Democrat with the attitude of a pleading little boy promising to be good if only he is given the chance.

    The strategy of trying to be the other guy, instead of authenticity is a proven failure both nationally and locally. Republicans need to get out of that mode, and start pointing out where they can do better. So far I am not seeing that.

  • Liberty-or-Death

    I get so friggin tired of Liberals hiding behind the “Less Fortunate”, “Kids”, “Dogs”, “Trees” and a host of stuff just to get back into hard working Americans Pocket Book, it never stops and most of what they have done has not helped the “Causes” they used to get those funds.. This “State” needs to do what every family tries to do, live within its means.. We will end up just like Cuba, in that those who actually do the work, get to keep a whopping 8% of their wages… Give this State enough time under Liberal leadership and we will be looking at the same situation.. Between the Feds and The State, they will rob you of 92% of what you make using bogus excuses to do so…. Wake up people… Oregon State Capital Building is now full of people acting like Sex Maniacs loose in a Whore House with someone else’s Credit Card and they want limitless Maximum Credit on those Public Cards… WAKE UP PEOPLE !!!

    • Jack Lord God

      If you look at heavily liberal areas you see what you are saying is exactly correct. Most major cities have moved more and more left over time, and as they have done so, income disparity increases. They are some of the most unaffordable places to live, and pushing out the poor so they don’t have to live near them is a favorite tactic of the left.

      Show me a liberal and I will show you someone who runs from anything working class, bowling, hunting, RV’ing, all of these are considered one word jokes in the liberal community.

      Poverty? Liberals have spent trillions on that and it remains the same – so no success there.

      Education? Liberals virtually run the education system. Ours was once the envy of the world, not anymore.

      Green Welfare? This is one of the cruelest jokes on the poor. If you drive an older less fuel efficient car he left has no problem requiring fuel blends that lower your gas mileage, so you pay more at the pump, and they collect more taxes because you are burning more fuel than ever before.

      The Economy? Who is doing well now? Well, if you make your income from stocks, you are doing fantastic. If you are low skilled, especially a minority, your lot has gotten hideously worse over the last six years.

      In short, the liberal record is one of all out warfare on the poor and middle class.

  • Jonathan

    “My focus will be on developing a bipartisan coalition of Southern Oregon Legislators that will support financing a regional pilot program designed to greatly increase the number and kinds of college courses that are made available to high school students.”

    So the good Legislator will be pushing his own region’s special interests, at significant cost to someone, all the while denouncing others for pushing their special interests.

  • guest

    No surprise? The 12/28/14 rendition of the Oregonian letters to the editor were in fervor for chicken little dire alarming attending climate change.

    OMG, Lakes of waters found on Mars, what’s next ?

    I sincerely hope a Chuck Weise rebuttal will appear, but don’t hold your breath waiting!

    All Gorering Philistine invaders desire a CARBON TAX swooner than later – and why…defies logical assimilation, butter-most their super egos, like the ailing Gore-on,

  • Rajveer Patil
  • Rajveer Patil

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