The integrity of the Kicker

A key paradox of our time is that, despite the increased access to information, some are reasonably prompted to call our present epoch the Post-Truth Era, as social media spreads folklore faster than it informs the masses of bona fide facts. We thus need the Kicker today more than ever. It stands as a bulwark of truth in an age of partisan polemics.

The recent announcement that Oregon income taxpayers will likely receive around a $686 million rebate at the end of this biennium is itself the result of more than just a law passed in 1980. It exists because of the integrity of the people making the forecasts.

A corrupt system could intentionally overestimate revenue so that there would never be a surplus to return. Instead, Oregon has staffed its Legislative Revenue Office and Office of Economic Analysis with people committed to rigor and reality.

The Kicker also plays an integral role in Oregon’s budget process which by law must be balanced. Money cannot be appropriated beyond the forecast. It’s reasonable to argue that our legislature spends too much money, but when we make that argument, or when the other side opposes that argument, we are all arguing over real numbers. Take the Kicker away, and then much of the accuracy in Oregon’s budgeting will go away too.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there