By House Republican Leader Bruce Hanna
Register-Guard Opinion Article, 5/10
Oregon is one step behind Michigan as the nation’s leader in unemployment. Oregonians are losing jobs at a faster rate than at any time in the last 60 years. More than 256,000 Oregonians are desperately searching for work. Many Oregon companies are struggling to stay in business and make payroll, and their employees worry about joining the ranks of the unemployed. During this challenging time Oregonians are looking for leadership from state government. Measuring the 2009 session so far, Salem is failing to lead. Government is the only industry in Oregon seeing a growth in jobs. And based on the hundreds of millions in proposed increases in taxes, fees and government debt, it appears families and small businesses will sacrifice even more in a continued attempt to grow state government.
As many Salem politicians wring their hands over the budget, they fail to realize that the shortfall is the result of an economic recession that refuses to bottom out. Yes, government will see a few billion dollars less in tax revenue than expected “” but that’s because families and businesses have lost tens of billions in income and investments.
There has been strong bipartisan support for giving unemployed Oregonians and their families much-needed help through extended and expanded unemployment benefits and services. While important, expanding unemployment assistance doesn’t solve the root problem. We need to expand employment itself. And to do that, we need healthy businesses and a thriving economy “” neither of which will come from new government bureaucracies or massive tax increases.
Legislative Republicans have put forward several innovative ideas for creating tens of thousands of jobs. For example, House Bill 3095, the Main Street Incentive Plan, would encourage home and business owners to engage in capital improvement projects throughout the state, spurring local construction and contracting jobs. House Bill 3469 would give tax relief to low-income Oregonians and working families, letting them keep more of their own income. Nonpartisan analyses estimate that these two bills would create more than 36,000 jobs.
That’s 36,000 jobs created throughout Oregon as a result of the decisions made by private citizens and business owners, not by politicians focused on pet projects.
Unfortunately, these ideas were killed by Democratic leadership. Their solution was to borrow $175 million to fund projects largely benefitting state agencies, with a promise of 3,000 jobs by April. Since its passage on Feb. 5, the Democrats’ package has created only 107 jobs while over 36,000 more Oregonians became unemployed.
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