by Dan Lucas
Back in April, public employee unions SEIU and AFSCME, along with a teacher’s union, OEA, put out a despicable and disingenuous attack ad. The attack ad targeted Republican Representative Dennis Richardson, one of three Co-Chairs of the Ways & Means Committee – the committee responsible for Oregon’s state budget. The other two co-chairs are Democrats, and were not targeted in the ad.
Rep. Richardson, along with his two Democratic Co-Chairs, had taken the very fiscally responsible stance that $460 million needed to be kept as a budget cushion (Ending Balance). One of the main reasons for the cushion was to protect school districts, teachers and state services from the jarring budget cuts that we’ve seen as a result of three years of mostly WRONG quarterly revenue forecasts.
In an attempt to coerce the legislators into spending every dime of the forecast revenue, the three public unions put out the attack ad criticizing Rep. Richardson for trying to cushion schools & state services from future wrong revenue forecasts.
The attack ad was filled with deceit. It attempted to portray the budget from a Democratic Governor (who they were major contributors to), that was being moved along by two Democratic Co-Chairs and one Republican Co-Chair, as a Republican plan. They pretended that Rep. Richardson as one of three Co-Chairs was the only chair, AND they falsely said that the then “$440 million” were “for HIS [Rep. Richardson] political priorities”.
Now those public unions are eating crow.
This week’s revenue forecast showed a $193 million General Fund decrease from last quarter’s. There are eight quarters in the current budget cycle, and already in the first of those eight, the decreased revenue forecast would take nearly half of the cushion. Had the legislature given into the public union’s attempted coercion, schools and state services would already be facing additional, painful cuts.
Representative Dennis Richardson, along with his two Democratic Co-Chairs, are looking pretty smart.