Gov. Kate Brown’s tax hike hypocrisy


Sen. Ted Ferrioli and Rep. Mike McLane

Career politicians are often accused of talking out of both sides of their mouth. After a 25-year career in politics, Gov. Kate Brown is perfecting the art of saying one thing while doing another.

Gov. Brown recently reiterated that she is not taking a public stance on Initiative Petition 28, the $6 billion tax on Oregon sales that government employee unions say will fund public services (although a speciously large portion would fund raises that Gov. Brown is giving to government employees).

Staying neutral is a politically convenient position, as a recent report from the nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office cautioned that such a tax on Oregon sales, higher than any similar tax in other states, could seriously dampen Oregon’s economy, cost Oregon families around $600 per year and result in over 38,000 lost private sector jobs.

But despite staying “officially” silent on whether she supports or opposes the measure, Gov. Brown has taken the curious step of promoting exactly how she would spend the revenue raised from IP28 if it were to pass.

Are we the only ones who think this seems hypocritical? The governor says she may still oppose the measure – but promoting how the billions of tax dollars should be spent reveals her true stance on IP28. It just isn’t politically convenient to say outright that she supports the costly measure.

Curiously, she hasn’t presented a plan for if the measure fails.

Gov. Brown’s politically convenient stance goes beyond not wanting to put herself on the line during what could be the most expensive ballot measure fight in Oregon history. Government employee unions are pushing for a new tax on Oregon sales because the Democrat-controlled Legislature has overpromised and overspent for years. Oregon’s own state economist recently quipped that Democrats in Salem spent like “drunken sailors” in this year’s budget.

Next year, Oregon’s budget faces a multibillion dollar hole from government employee raises, PERS liabilities and reduced federal subsidies for Obamacare. This threatens to dry up Oregon’s coffers, leaving little left for education. This tax is nothing more than a desperate attempt by Democratic politicians to cover up the budget mess they created.

We’re already seeing warning signs of a slowing economy. IP28 would result in 38,000 fewer private sector jobs and, because it is a tax on Oregon sales, would cost Oregon families around $600 more each year. Ironically, this tax on sales would have the greatest impact on low-income families.

Is Gov. Brown really promoting a regressive tax that hurts working families and fixed-income seniors? That is not the Oregon way.

By putting the cart in front of the IP28 horse, Gov. Brown is hitching her political future to the success of this government employee union-backed measure to fix a mess politicians in her own party created, at the expense of working families, Oregon businesses and even private-sector union members.

Gov. Brown should take a public stance against IP28, start looking for real solutions to Oregon’s budget crisis and stop spending her time divvying up money raised from a tax she won’t even publicly support.

This op-ed ran in The Oregonian on Monday – Sen. Ted Ferrioli is the Oregon Senate Republican Leader and Rep. Mike McLane is the Oregon House Republican Leader