Senator Brian Boquist: 2.9 Billion of Unused State Funds

Senator Brian Boquist wants to cut back on agencies and taxes, not just to save money, but to ensure a better-run government for Oregonians.
By Rebecca Tweed
Taxpayer Association of Oregon
Lawmaker Profile Series

Senator Brian Boquist (R””Dallas) believes the key for getting Oregon back on its feet in every area is to downsize. For instance, Senator Boquist, who serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, suggests as an example, combining all the environment and natural resource-related agencies and divisions into one large agency. “If we worked together on natural resources, we’d work better. Combine all of them and go back to the drawing board to cut waste and find money. We don’t need all the bureaucracy; it actually makes it harder to function successfully and economically,” says Senator Boquist.

While Senator Boquist thinks the idea of cleaning house and combining agencies would be popular with citizens, it’s not going to be a top priority with the current political arrangements in the Legislature.

“I can’t change the bigger picture right now, the numbers are against us. But am I still going to chip away little by little with meaningful legislation until we’ve started creating a more efficient government? Absolutely,” states Senator Boquist. He’s chief-sponsored 42 bills and estimates that 80% of them are about decreasing the government’s hand in a situation or decreasing unnecessary spending.

Senator Boquist is not only fed up with the inability to get things done efficiently, but always afraid of what is being done.

“The bottom line is that nobody in power is interested in losing any of it. That’s just the bottom line. They could find new sources of revenue in hundreds of places, but they want to keep their hands in your pockets so they keep control,” Says Senator Boquist.

A local non-profit watchdog organization, Common Sense for Oregon, says the state budget has increased 37% for the last three years, yet Oregonians’ personal incomes have only increased 18%. To quote their webpage…where does that money go?

According to Senator Boquist, the money is there, just not being utilized. “There is $2.9 billion in ending balances of funds spread between the state agencies, yet the legislature is toting that we’re $800 million short. It’s not true. We have the money, but there’s no interest within the leadership to merge agency funds or look at carry over. Its taxes, taxes and more taxes,” says Senator Boquist.

And he’s not joking. There have been 55 tax or fee increases already introduced during the 2009 legislative cycle. With the Democrats 36-vote lead over the Republicans and a Democrat sitting duck in the Governorship, it’s almost inevitable that they will all pass.