Public unions looking dumber and dumber

by Dan Lucas

State’s latest revenue forecast again validates the wisdom of keeping a budget cushion (Ending Balance)

Update to our article on the last quarterly revenue forecast (September forecast)

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 looking dumber and dumber, and Representative Dennis Richardson, along with his two Democratic Co-Chairs, are looking smarter and smarter.

This week’s revenue forecast showed a further $110 million decrease from last quarter’s, for a total decrease of $306 million since the close of the legislative session in June. That’s $306 million in just the first two quarters. There are eight quarters in the current two-year (biennium) budget cycle, and just 1/4th of the way into the budget cycle, 2/3rds of the cushion has already been wiped out by plummeting revenue forecasts.

Had the legislature given into the public union’s attempted coercion, schools and state services would already be facing additional, painful cuts. Oregonians owe a debt of gratitude to Representative Dennis Richardson, who alone bore the pressure and deceitful attacks from the public unions.


To read more reactions on this week’s quarterly Oregon Economic and Revenue Forecast:

Rep. Richardson’s Newsletter – November 17, 2011
“The anticipated state revenue from the General and Lottery Funds has been readjusted downward by another $107 million.”

House Republican Leader Comments on December Revenue Forecast
“Despite the special interest attacks, the last three revenue forecasts have vindicated our position.”

Senate Republicans comment on revenue forecast
“Thursday’s revenue forecast predicted another $107 million reduction in receipts for state government, for a total 2011-13 deficit of just over $300 million.”

Statement from Co-Speaker Bruce Hanna on Latest State Revenue Forecast
“Total anticipated general and lottery fund resources for the 2011-2013 biennium are now $306 million less than expected at the close of the 2011 legislative session.”

The Oregonian Editorial Board – Let’s hear it for prudent budgeting
“Dennis Richardson was right. The Central Point Republican who insisted on a state budget reserve of more than $450 million and was ripped for his stance in television ads paid for by public employee unions now looks absolutely prescient.”

  • Taxpayer

    How can the unions be called dumb when they actually have managed to control all legislation in the state and governor’s office???

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Calling the unions dumb is being a little generous here. Look, we all know whaTt they were trying to do. They wanted every penny of funds spent because that benifits their membership. If there is a shortfall, instead of a cushion, then the unions are in a much better position to argue for increased taxes, and thus increased funds available to them.

    Indeed, to act in any other manner would be contrary to a unions purpose. That purpose being to secure as much money as possible for the membership.

    Conservatives have an easy time accepting that a corporation exists solely to make money for stockholders. Corporations are not there to “give back to the community” they are not there “for the public good” they are there to make money and thats it. There is nothing wrong with that. Yet for some reason accepting this same basic reality about unions seems hard. Instead now we are calling the unions dumb.

    Liberals seem to have the same basic problem. To them a corporation seeking to make as much money as they can for stockholders is evil, yet a union trying to make as much money as possible for their membership is good.

    Where things go south is in not understanding this relationship. If you buy a TV, you are in an advisarial relationship with the company that made it. They want to get as much money from you for as little TV as they can delivar. We all know this. With a union its the same thing, they want as much money for their members for as llittle work as possible. Everyone understands this, but for some reason union supporters have a hard time admitting the second.

    Unions in general, and public employee unions in particular go beyond the common adversarial relationship. They seek special dispensation and priviledge to game the system. Anyone who doubts this can just look to Boeing for an example. What the unions tried to do here was put us all at risk, through attempting to shortfall the budget, in order to have more money available to their membership. We all understand the risk in buying a TV and that adversarial relationship. You might get less TV for the money should you buy poorly. With public employee unions, should we fail to understand they are our adversaries, we put a lot more at risk. Public employee unions are willing to bankrupt the rest of us in order to gain more for their members in no less a way than payday loan companies are. We need to keep that in mind in our dealings with them. Public employees are not our friends any more than GE is our friend or the payday loan place is your friend. They are our adversaries, and they are far from dumb.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      Apologies in advance for the spelling. A computer crash has forced me onto my laptop. Sadly, no Firefox.

    • valley person

      ” That purpose being to secure as much money as possible for the membership.”

      That is one purpose of a union. Additional ones are job security, benefits, and better working conditions.

      “Corporations are not there to “give back to the community” they are not
      there “for the public good” they are there to make money and thats it.”

      Fortunately many actual corporations don’t agree with you on this. There are a lot of companies that measure success by more than how much money they make. You may have missed the letter to the editor by the founder of Rejuvenation House Parts as just one local example.

      But to the extent many corporations follow the model you suggest, it leads to ruin for all, evidenced by the financial crisis we are still digging out from under. 

      “Where things go south is in not understanding this relationship. If you
      buy a TV, you are in an advisarial relationship with the company that
      made it. They want to get as much money from you for as little TV as
      they can delivar. We all know this.”

      No, we don’t all know this. A person or company providing me with a good or service that I willingly pay for is hardly establishing an adversarial relationship. Its a mutually beneficial relationship since I could not or cared not to provide the good or service for myself, nor did I want to go without it.

      Granting the reality that  has to make a profit on the transaction does not take anything away from me.  And beyond that Rupert, many of us willingly pay more for a given product to help support a local business, who in return may support us one day. We are not always looking for cheapest, nor are merchants always looking to screw their customers.

      “With public employee unions, should we fail to understand they are our adversaries, we put a lot more at risk. ”

      Tell that to the cops in the street or the fire fighters who come into your burning building protecting or saving your sorry tush. Tell them they are your adversary. 

      No, public employees are definitely not YOUR friend. But please don’t try and speak for anyone else.

      And thanks for enlightening me on your business philosophy, just in case we ever meet in the marketplace. 

      • Anonymous

        It’s amazing how you three percenters (as opposed to the total lie of calling yourselves 99 percenters) want to blame the corps for all the world’s ills. I’m sure sure you, and your buddy Obozo, won’t be happy until all the corps are run by the government…then they can do with them what they did with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

        • valley person

          99% Joel, refers to one’s economic position, not one’s political position. If your annual earnings are below the top 1%, you are by definition part of the 99%. So welcome to the pack bro. Your sign is in the mail.

          I don’t know how you can read what I wrote to Rupert and say that I am blaming corporations for the world’s woes. Quite the opposite, unlike Rupert I distinguish among corporations. Like people (which they are in law) there are good, bad, and in between.  

          Under Obama, US corporations are at their highest profit levels in many years. Fannie & Freddie were private corporations when they went ass over tea kettle and asked to be bailed out, they were not government run. Since the government took them over they have stopped losing money. Ironic no?

          • Oregon Engineer

            Maybe you should read some business headlines.  as in Freddy and Fannie may need another 100Billion.

          • valley person

            They need more money to clear off legacy debts and defaults from loans purchased prior to the government takeover. All their problems occurred while they were in fact a private enterprise.Look it up.

  • Bob Clark

    Boy, what a miscasting of Representative Richardson as Oregon State’s version of Mr. Potter (“It’s a Wonderful Life”).  Actually, the unions got it backwards. Mr. Richardson strikes me more like my responsible grandfather.  Grandfather would say to me:  I know you’ve got a decent job, sonny; but you need to put some money away in the cookie jar just in case the economy goes bad like back in the Great Depression when I lost my good job.

    I am kind of optimistic things are picking up economically but there’s a real dark clould overhanging the Global financial network which is a wild card as to whether U.S banks won’t have another meltdown.  The Germans are holding up the show as they drag their feet in running the Euro printing press sharply harder, and in so doing create this cloud of uncertainty.  Greeks probably leave the Euro and bring back their old currency (Drachmas…too lazy to check spelling).  Can you imagine the U.S federal government bailing out the banking sector anytime soon?  I think we would rather be talking nationalization to a much higher degree.  Crossing fingers…Come on Germany, you’ll feel a whole lot better with this monetary tonic.

  • Guest

    True of both public and private employee unions,e.g., SEIU, AFSME, OEA and recently, ILWU at Vancouver and Longview, swat all.  

  • Marvelous18

    As someone once said, “if you seek to destroy someone first seem to serve them.” That is exactly what all public unions are seeking to do. The reason they want to destroy government and all taxpayers is because public unions and their members, think that their salaries and benefit packages come from the air.

  • Oregon Engineer

    I wonder if the continued reduction of revenue has anything to do with the tax increases on the business and “evil rich” people.

    Just a thought.

    • valley person

      No, but it does have a lot to do with tax cuts.

  • Rob DeHarpport

      All the protest and outright denial in the world will not fix the mess that has been created by government unions. Greece and many Euro countries are finally realizing this. California, New York, Illinois etc. will soon follow. Oregon will be right behind them. Public pension debt will very soon collapse the house of cards.

  • HBguy

    rep. Richardson was very unfairly targeted by the democrats and unions. Thank goodness we have some smart budgeters like him in Salem. While I don’t agree with some of his positions, he is a no nonsense, smart, straight shooter.