Health Cost: State employees, lawmakers should pay fair share

Democrats Vote to Protect 100 Percent Taxpayer-Funded Premiums

By Oregon House Republicans,

SALEM”” House Republicans today moved to require state workers and elected officials to pay a fair share for their taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage. Currently, state employees and elected officials do not contribute a penny towards their premiums and have no annual deductible. On partisan votes, Democrats rejected HB 2523 to require state workers to contribute toward their health insurance premiums, and then rejected HB 3333 to require legislators, political appointees and statewide elected officials to contribute nine percent towards their premiums. For 2009 alone, Oregonians will pay $605 million to provide state employees with health benefits, dental benefits, life insurance and other perks such as personal shopper.

“At the same time Democrats are raising taxes, they are forcing taxpayers to fund 100 percent of health insurance premiums for all public employees and elected officials,” said House Republican Leader Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg). “With the second highest unemployment rate in the nation, Democrats are showing they’re out of touch by mishandling the economy, public finances, and the state’s priorities.”

The Oregonian reported today that the Governor and Democratic leadership are refusing to consider fair share premium contributions, even as some workers’ benefits reach 50 percent of their salary rates. Yesterday, these same Democrats announced a $400 million tax increase to expand state-subsidized health programs.

“Oregonians are losing their jobs and their health insurance, yet Democrats are protecting taxpayer-funded coverage for themselves and their political contributors,” said Rep. Ron Maurer (R-Grants Pass). “This week has demonstrated the Democrats’ predatory approach to health care. They believe it’s acceptable to expand coverage- and protect their own coverage- as long as other people pay for it.”

Oregon is the only state that doesn’t require their employees to contribute towards their premiums or pay annual deductibles. As other states tighten their belts, Oregon Legislature is raising taxes, increasing spending and maintaining costly benefits for state employees.

“The Legislature must make the tough decisions to balance the budget and get our economy back on track,” Rep. Hanna said. “With our Back to Basics budget plan, Republicans are working for fiscal responsibility and accountability in Salem. Republicans believe the Legislature should balance the budget without requiring Oregonians to pay more taxes for larger government.”