Senator Ted Ferrioli: Ideas to fix budget and economy

Taxpayer Association of Oregon
Lawmaker profile series
Q & A with State Senator Ted Ferrioli

Name three things the Oregon Legislature should do to balance the budget?

1. Cut pay raises handed out to state managers and employees that will cost taxpayers $312 million this year.
2. Use a portion of the Education Stability Fund to match school district savings and prevent reductions to the school year.
3. Require state employees to contribute to their health insurance costs.
How do you think will rural Oregon be helped this Session? What does rural Oregon need the most?

Rural Oregon faces an unemployment rate that is percentage points higher than the rest of Oregon. What they need the most is jobs. That means natural resource policy that isn’t hostile to timber, cattle, agriculture and mining. We need to untie their hands so they can earn a living amongst Oregon’s abundant natural resources. That also means the Governor needs to stop litigating.

What reform idea do you feel has the best chance to pass the 2009 Session?

Oregon needs of Office of Government Accountability. An Office of Government Accountability and Audits would be dedicated to conducting thorough, top-to-bottom audits of at least two state agencies every budget cycle. The office would answer to a bi-partisan standing committee of Senators and Representatives and help the legislature monitor and control how government agencies spend money. Today, there is little oversight beyond the 50,000 foot budgeting perspective. If we are to hold agencies accountable for how the spend every tax dollar, we need a full-time office dedicated to looking at line items.

What is the best way to get Oregonians back to work?

I believe the best way to put Oregonians back to work is through the Working Family Tax Relief, Job Creation and Accountability Package that I proposed last year. The package would put more Oregonians into a lower tax bracket and provide the average working family with a 20% tax break. This would give the average family an extra $408 per year towards food, heat and rent and create over 20,000 jobs.

The tax relief puts $375 million back into the economy every year. It also restores fairness to the tax structure by taking low income earners out of the higher tax brackets. The proposal accomplishes these goals by doubling the size of Oregon’s 5%,7% and 9% tax brackets, so Oregonians pay less tax on more income. These are lasting, local jobs.