Don’t Just Blame the Politicians

The Oregonian ran an editorial last Monday (Stuck in the middle with you, Sept. 21) bemoaning the fact that the Democrats who control the state legislature “shoved Oregon’s progressive and far-sighted business leaders into a corner” by voting for permanent tax increases.* If only the legislators had gone along with the Oregon Business Association’s proposal for temporary tax increases, the editors believe that somehow everything would have worked out just fine on the tax and budget front.

On the contrary, both the so-called progressive business leaders and the legislators who failed to notice how fast Oregon state spending has grown in recent decades are part of the problem.

For example, the state is spending $2,500 per year more today for every man, woman and child in Oregon than it would be if the All Funds Budget had just grown with inflation and population increases since 1985. Such restraint would have made the most recent biennial budget $30 billion instead of what it was””$48 billion.

There would be no need for even temporary tax increases today if the state had exercised the kind of fiscal restraint that families and businesses must exercise every day. Blaming the Democrats may feel good, but we shouldn’t give the “progressive business leaders” a pass on this one. They should be standing with the rest of the business community saying No to any new taxes on anyone in this recession.

* Last Friday more than twice the required number of signatures were turned in to the Secretary of State to refer both the personal income tax and corporate tax increases to a special election ballot on January 26th.

Steve Buckstein is founder and senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.