How Legislators Can Balance Oregon’s Budget—Without Raising Taxes

By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

Despite an eight percent increase in general fund revenues, Governor Kate Brown and some lawmakers say Oregon is facing a $1.7 billion budget shortfall in the 2017-19 biennium. Nevertheless, the Governor has released a budget that expands entitlements while raising taxes, fees, and charges by nearly $275 million for the general fund alone.

Expanding programs while increasing taxes is something Oregon could do if it were a rich state. Oregon is not a rich state. Income for the average Oregonian is about nine percent lower than the national average, and the cost of living is 15 percent higher. In other words, the average Oregonian earns less but pays more for basic items than the average American. Oregon legislators and other policymakers must face the reality that the state simply cannot afford costly new or expanded programs.

My analysis published in Facing Reality: Suggestions to Balance Oregon’s Budget Without Raising Taxes (February 2017), by Cascade Policy Institute and Oregon Capitol Watch Foundation, identifies seven straightforward solutions to the state’s current budget crisis for savings of nearly $1.3 billion in the next biennium.* If all the solutions were implemented, none of the tax and fee increases outlined in the Governor’s budget would be necessary. Continue reading

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Reagan’s personal liaison keynotes Dorchester



Peggy Grande to speak at next weekend’s huge Dorchester conference in Salem Peggy Grande– Author of The “President Will See You Now”, Keynote Speaker and Specialty Project Consultant, Executive Assistant to Ronald President Ronald Reagan Continue reading

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Rebecca Tweed: The Winning Quarterback

tweed 1

By Eric Shierman

Rebecca Tweed was the Statewide Campaign Coordinator of the No on 97 campaign last year, the largest and most expensive campaign in Oregon history. A lifelong Oregonian, Tweed’s interest in public affairs nearly spans the course of her still very young life. If she didn’t have so much more future potential ahead of her, Tweed’s accomplishments so far would seem fitting for a lifetime achievement award.

Her first realization that there were things happening in the world that we should be paying attention to was Operation: Desert Storm. As a newly literate grade schooler, Tweed read the newspaper after school and watched the evening news every night, quizzing her parents profusely: “What does this mean? Why are we there?”

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Silverton Mayor Rick Lewis Appointed As New State Representative

Silverton Mayor Rick Lews

By Reagan Knopp

Commissioners from Marion and Clackamas Counties have made their decision, choosing Silverton Mayor Rick Lewis as the next State Representative from House District 18. He succeeds Vic Gilliam who resigned on February 1st. Lewis was sworn in today in Salem.

In an interesting quirk of Oregon law, Lewis is allowed to keep his position as Mayor of Silverton. He announced his intention to do so in a statement to The Oregonian:

“Oregon law prohibits an elected official from holding two “lucrative” offices, meaning two offices where a salary or stipend is received,” Lewis wrote. “As mayor, I receive no salary and no stipend, so I can continue to hold that office.”

Update: In a Press Release from House Republicans, Lewis announced he would not continue to serve as Mayor of Silverton, citing a possible legal challenge:

“The decision to step away from my role with the City was far and away the most difficult part of this process,” said Representative Lewis. “I was hopeful that I might be able to continue serving as mayor while also serving as a member of the Legislative Assembly, but it became clear that there were some outstanding constitutional questions that could expose both the City and the Legislature to some risks. I have pledged to be as helpful as possible to my colleagues in Silverton as they navigate this unexpected transition. Today is very bittersweet for me, but I am comforted by the fact that I will still have an opportunity to work closely with my friends at the City as I assume my new role in the Legislature.”

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How Blue is Oregon Really?

By Jacob Vandever

Oregon is often painted as a liberal stronghold, unmoved even during big conservative waves such as in 2014. However when you dig into the numbers that idea is not as true as many would think. When you look at the statewide results of the 2016 election it would not be unreasonable to think about telling a different story.

While Republican’s might not necessarily be popular in Oregon, there is an argument to be made that Democrats aren’t as popular as you might be lead to believe. During her race for Governor Kate Brown achieved a comfortable 7 point victory over her Republican opponent Bud Pierce, but still only received a little more than 50% of the vote. Continue reading

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No Real Tax Reform Plan Now and Probably Never

Right From the Start

Last week Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that the House would take up consideration of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and its replacement right after the latest Congressional recess.  He also noted that once that is done they will take up consideration of tax reform, probably in the latter part of the summer.  I was stunned.

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State employee pay ranks 12th most generous

By Taxpayer Association of Oregon
and Taxpayer Association Foundation,

Oregon has the 12th highest pay in the U.S. for state public employees. Across the states, the average state employee wage and salary income is about 5.5 percent higher than the average pay for all wage and salary employees in the state. This is in line with academic research that finds, when worker characteristics and job attributes are controlled for, public sector pay is approximately six percent higher than private sector pay in the United States. Continue reading

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Happy Presidents’ Day

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Giant Property Tax Increase (SJR 3) Advancing


By Taxpayer Association of Oregon

A hearing on SJR 3 — a massive property tax increase was held on  Tuesday February 21st in the Senate Finance Committee in the Salem State Capitol.

Senate Joint Resolution 3 would dismantle the protections homeowners have on the rate of increase of their property taxes on their home. Currently those taxes based on the assessed value of your home are capped at 3%. This 3% limit was enacted by voters in 1997 (Measure 50) and placed into the Oregon constitution. SJR 3 aims to remove it — which could hit homeowners with thousands in higher property tax bills. Continue reading

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Car Ownership Is Not a Crime

By John A. Charles, Jr.

A bill has been introduced in the state legislature that would impose a $1,000 ownership tax every five years on automobiles more than 20 years old.

Fortunately, leaders of the Republican Party quickly denounced it; and without bipartisan support the bill has no chance of passage. The chair of the House Revenue Committee, Rep. Phil Barnhart of Eugene, has announced that the bill is dead.

The fact that this legislation was even introduced points to a conceptual problem shared by many lawmakers: They think that owning a vehicle is undesirable and should be taxed.

But owning a car imposes no cost on the public; it’s the use of the vehicle that we should be concerned with.

As one legislator told me many years ago, “I own four cars—but I only drive one at a time!” Continue reading

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Navy Seal superstar Congressman Taylor speaking 2/25

Former tough guy and Navy Seal, Congressman Scott Taylor will be a keynote speaker at Oregon’s Liberty Rally this Saturday February 25th. Congressman Taylor served as a SEAL sniper and served in Iraq, Yemen as well as in Central and South America. Taylor is a Congressman representing the second congressional district in Virginia. Continue reading

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LIVE: HD 18 Nominating Convention

We’re covering the Oregon Republican House District 18 Nominating Convention happening right now in Donald, Oregon. Follow Oregon Catalyst on Twitter to follow along live.

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OPB: Oregon Republican Activists Have Mixed Views On Trump, But Hope Triumphs Over Fear

Oregon Catalyst contributor Jacob Vandever and former Editor Dan Lucas gave their thoughts on Trump along with a number of other well-spoken, Oregon conservative activists in an article by Jeff Mapes for OPB.

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