Just once, I wish the Democrats’ rhetoric would match with their actions.
For most of the summer and on into the fall, Oregonians have had to listen to Gov. Ted Kulongoski wax ignorant about a new paradigm for governance. Kulongoski drones on and on about state government not being able to continue spending at current levels and that politicians and citizens alike are going to have to lower their expectations about what government can provide and raise their expectations about how government delivers the critical few services that it can afford.
To this day, I don’t think Ted Kulongoski understands a single thing about economics, about budgeting and about administration. He is the most economically illiterate governor Oregon has had in modern times. He is pressing for the title of the most intellectually dishonest politician in the last fifty years.
All the while that Kulongoski is preening about his “new” economic realities, he continues his reckless spending on behalf of the public employee unions and his “green energy” initiative. During the month of October – when the big checks were being written to fellow Democrat politicians by the public employee unions, Kulongoski increased the number of public employees by 1,400 according to his own Department of (Public) Employment. That brings to 2,100 additional public employees that Kulongoski has added to the state payroll just since the first of the year.
The average cost of a state worker is about $80,000 per year – that’s $50,000 in salary and another $30,000 in benefits (PERS and healthcare) and payroll taxes. Kulongoski’s October gift to the public employees unions adds another $112 Million annually to the cost of government – $224 Million for the biennium.
And here’s the kicker. At the same time that the new employment figures are published showing the additional 1,400 public employees and adding the $224 Million in recurring biennial costs, the latest tax revenue projections for state government for the next biennium fell by another $272 Million according to State Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day).
When the state economist projected a $2 Billion budget deficit for the 2011-13 biennium over a year ago, I guesstimated that the figure would be closer to $4 Billion by the time the 2011 legislature actually sets the new budget. The current estimate is now for a $3.5 Billion shortfall and Kulongoski’s October “surprise” just added another quarter of a billion to the price tag.
Kulongoski lying about the new “economic reality” and continuing to pour on the number of public employees shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s sort of like the story of the scorpion and the frog. – it’s what Democrats do. The failure of Oregon’s mainstream media to ask a single hard question about the difference between Kulongoski’s rhetoric and his actual delivery also shouldn’t be a surprise given how heavily invested The Oregonian is in programs of the succession of Democrat governors.
What is surprising is that Oregon voters opted to continue these practices by electing John Kitzhaber who is equally guilty of reckless spending and enhancing the public employee unions at the taxpayers’ expense.
But then again, perhaps Oregon has crossed the tipping point where there are more Oregonians dependant on government largesse than there are Oregonians paying the bills.