House Speaker unveils 2006 agenda

After the election, the Governor used his first week attacking on his new opponent as an extremist. House Speaker Karen Minnis on the other hand used it to introduce her agenda for 2006. Minnis’ press release is re-printed below:

KAREN MINNIS PRESS RELEASE — In a letter sent to Governor Ted Kulongoski, Senate President Peter Courtney and Republican candidate for governor Ron Saxton, House Speaker Karen Minnis today outlined a legislative agenda for 2007 that would help restore public confidence in state government by focusing on issues that all Oregonians agree are critical to Oregon’s future. In the letter, Speaker Minnis also solicits their help and ideas in making an agenda for Oregon a reality next session.

“Regardless of who wins the election for governor in the fall, the issues we will face in January 2007 will be the same: education, tax policy, health care and public safety,” Speaker Minnis said in her letter. “I’d like to build on the success of the recent special session and work on an agenda for the next year that I believe, can earn the support of legislators and Oregonians of both parties.”

Speaker Minnis’ agenda for the 2007 Legislative Session includes the following:


– Refine and enact the Stable Schools Plan or another means to ensure K-12 public schools receive predictable funding within the taxes Oregonians already pay

Tax reform

– Establish and fund a rainy day fund
– Examine — in consultation with Oregon’s business community — the feasibility of redirecting the corporate kicker
– Provide an incentive to invest in Oregon’s economy by reducing the capital gains tax

Protecting our children

– Reform the state’s child welfare system to provide better care for children placed in the state’s care
– Improve programs that assist child victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence
– Expand health care options for Oregon children

Public safety

– Expand the number of Oregon State Police officers to ensure 24 hour coverage on Oregon’s highways
– Toughen penalties for crimes committed against children or by members of criminal gangs

“I believe these are achievable and sound policy goals that would improve the economic health of our state and improve the lives of the citizens who have elected us to represent them,” Speaker Minnis said. “We have proved in past regular sessions, and most dramatically in last month’s special session, that we can accomplish great things working together. I challenge us all to remember our past bi-partisan successes and work now to make sure the next session of the Legislature builds on them.”

  • Jason Williams

    Rainyday fund? We have just the thing in our spending limit petition (see The idea is perfect — limit state spending growth to population and inflation growth and let the surplus funds be put into a rainy day fund. Rainy day funds should be saved from existing (overspending) revenues and not from new taxes or raiding the kicker as some plans suggest. When recessions hit, and tax revenue drops (below the population-flation rate) such rainy day funds could be spent.

    • jrw

      What’s with the obsession on spending limits? Shouldn’t we, the citizens of Oregon, through our elected representatives, be able to decide how much we choose to tax ourselves to spend on the things we decide are important? Do you think we can’t be trusted to make such decisions? I guess you need to protect us from ourselves, huh? I thought that was a liberal notion?
      The monomaniacal insistence on a spending limit is a classic illustration of the “if you only have a hammer, all problems are a nail” mode of thinking. In this case, the Johnny-one-notes see government spending as the root of all evil and a spending limit as the silver-bullet that will right all wrongs and usher in the golden age.
      So Jason, what if the citizens of Oregon, after you lock in spending in the Constitution, decide that health care needs improving, or education needs a boost, or public safety needs shoring up? Costs in those areas increase much faster than inflation and don’t move in lock step with population growth. I guess we’re just out of luck then, eh? Or will the magic of the markets take care of everything?
      Let’s face it, governing is tough business that requires trade-offs between taxing and spending, the public sector and the private sector, individual liberty and collective decision making. It’s not always (ever?) neat and efficient. Citizen priorities swing back and forth, voter moods change, the world may look radically different in a decade of two. Flexibility is what’s required for our state to respond to the challenges we face, not a simple-minded “fix” based on premises that, to put it kindly, are poorly thought out. I know conservatives don’t like ambiguity and prefer a black-and-white world, but this one’s a loser.

  • Dave A.

    How about scrapping the Oregon Income Tax and replacing it with a sales tax that can’t be raised unless getting a 51% vote of the total voting public in a general election. It would capture dollars from visitors to this state that pay next to nothing in taxes or fees; not to mention all those people that buy everything in cash. The burden would be on those who consume and spend, not on almost everyone earning a paycheck. If you think this is a bad idea, maybe you can explain why the states of Washington & Nevada that have no state income tax are doing so much better financially than Oregon.

    • Doug

      State like Washington are so much better off with a sales tax rather than an income tax. “We can shift the burden to the visitors”. Then why is Washington considering a income tax? Because the income Washington receives from the sales tax is enough? All the government wants is more dollars.

      To solve the problem you must control spending first.

  • Anon

    Rep. Minnis’ P.R. foks must have made a mistake. Her performance leading the Legislature through the so-called “special” session was a full-on demonstration, as if we needed another one, that there will be NO WAY to have a Rainy Day Fund without a spending limit. They continue to spend every cent they can lay their hands on. I didn’t see anything in her agenda about a spending limit. So she couldn’t really want a Rainy Day Fund. An earlier draft must have slipped past the editors. Oh well. That happens.

  • Steven Plunk

    I support a spending limit but I am far from “monomaniacal” in my support.

    In a perfect world our elected representatives would reflect our will with every vote they cast. This is not a perfect world and the representatives clearly miss the boat on many issues. One of the very reasons we have federal and state constitutions is to apply rules to the legislative process, a spending cap is just another rule.

    Take a good look at the process and you will see it is the executive branch that proposes and lobbies most legislation. The fact they are right there in Salem while the rest of us are at home means they can send over officials to testify for bills when we cannot. Simply put, thet legislature’s biggest constituent is government not the people.

    With a broken system in place a spending cap is a modest fix that many would agree with. I certainly don’t see it as a hammer looking for nail unless you’re a government employee.

    A previous poster mentioned that in many governmental functions the costs are rising faster than inflation. I wonder if that is because we continue to fund them at a rate higher than inflation?

  • PanchoPdx

    jrw asked:

    “what if the citizens of Oregon, after you lock in spending in the Constitution, decide that health care needs improving, or education needs a boost, or public safety needs shoring up?”

    The spending limit allows the legislature to spend above the limit IF the voters approve the increased spending.

    Contrary to your take, this measure will increase the influence of voters in state budget matters.

  • Minnis is going to pay for all the new cops, jails, schools and health care with….? what? Fantasy.