Rep. Richardson: Time Is Running Out for the Budget


I am here in Indianapolis, Indiana to attend a graduation. Indiana has a colorful political history. In fact, Oregon’s founders used Indiana’s Constitution 150 years ago as a model for drafting our own State Constitution. Today, Indiana is embroiled in a controversy over Governor Mitch Daniels’ toll road sale decision. Governor Daniels sold for nearly $4 Billion Indiana’s rights to operate and collect tolls on 175 miles of Indiana highways. Opponents to the deal fear the $4 Billion will quickly be spent on feel-good projects that will provide no long-term benefit to the state. They have good reason to fear. In all likelihood, the money will quickly be spent and Indiana residents will feel the loss of their toll road revenues for the next 75 years. Here in Indiana I am reminded, every state has its issues.

Back in Oregon, the key issue continues to be the budget. Weeks keep passing and the Session’s June 29th ending date is fast approaching. Surprisingly, there is no indication as to when the Ways and Means Co-Chairs will publish a comprehensive, detailed budget for Oregon’s next biennium. Each week a steady stream of budget bills are brought to the House Floor, and each week they are passed over the top of Republican objections. Top priority issues, such as assuring Oregon highways get 24/7 coverage with the addition of 139 new Oregon State Troopers, remain unfunded. The Republicans continue to demand a comprehensive budget document setting forth the total amount of revenue and expenditures under consideration. Those demands have fallen on deaf ears.

So far this session both the Governor’s Recommended Budget and the Co-Chair’s Budget have proposed expenditures costing far more than the forecasted revenues, unless the forecasted revenues are augmented by additional taxes. Five House Republican votes are required to reach the constitutionally required super-majority for a tax increase. The Governor and the Democrat leaders have yet to show Republican leaders why additional taxes would be justified, and voters from 29 Legislative districts elected Republicans to protect them from unnecessary expansion of government programs and expense.

The Governor and Democrat leaders must quickly decide whether or not they can live within the revenues forecast for the next biennium. If that is their budgeting strategy, it can be implemented without House Republican votes. If staying within current revenue forecasts is not feasible, the Governor and Democrat leaders must show Republican leaders how five House Republican votes for tax increases will benefit all of Oregon, including the 29 districts represented by Republicans in the House and Senate.

There are only seven weeks remaining in this legislative session. Seven weeks is not long to conclude discussions on exactly how much revenue is going to constitute the 2007-09 adopted budget, finalize the budget strategy and budget bills, and determine the session’s “end game” — i.e., which pending legislation will languish and die in committee, and which will be allowed to pass through both the House and the Senate and go forward to the Governor for his final analysis and signature. From my viewpoint, the next 10 days will determine this session’s final budgeting strategy. Politics requires negotiations and compromise, and for Oregon’s 74th Legislative session, time is running out.

Sincerely,

Dennis Richardson
State Representative

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  • Captain_Anon

    Interesting Indiana has toll roads, and the people there are upset the state may be getting rid of them. Whereas in oregon we don’t have them and people are upset it was even proposed.

  • CRAWDUDE

    Just because some other state has something or does something different from your state, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea….of course it doesn’t mean it’s a bad one either.

    The state should ask the voters if they’d like toll roads to fund the State Cops, of course that would mean they’d have to come up with a plan………obviously the hard part considering our current crop of legislators.

    I always kinda figure that if someone really likes what another state has, they should move there.

  • Captain_Anon

    I think toll roads are a good idea – especially since many here, at least on this board, want NEW ones. it would help build them. I read someplace in the threads someone was upset that no new roads have been built. Partially true. But MANY roads have had thier capacity significantly increased. Building new highways is astronamically expensive given the right of way requirements and prices people think thier land is worth. in some circumstances, it IS worth what they want, but in more, people always tend to think thier home or property is worth way more than it really is. this is always a road block to buidling roads, and costs tax payers severely in building those roads. so, toll roads is a way to help pay for them, get the roads people want, and pay off property owners.

    i tend to agree with you, if someone likes what anotehr state has, they can move. For me, i like the Oregon, and what it has to offer. i think those who are upset by Oregon, dismayed by it’s direction etc, they should probably move since this is no longer a place they like or want to be.

  • Steven Plunk

    I think we are missing the point here.

    The most important job of the legislature is to budget the revenues and expenditures for the coming years. While new statutes are passed we could theoretically not pass any new laws but a budget must be passed. So the most important job is seemingly the most ignored job.

    Rather than start working on the budget the leadership has put it off until the last minute. You could excuse that by mentioning the updated revenue forecasts but a good portion of work could already be concluded if people were serious about why we send them to Salem.

    The less serious people, like Metsger with his no going out of business sales unless you are going out of business law or Carter and the let the prostitutes teach bill or Cannon and his fuel efficiency on the drivers test idea, are avoiding the real public’s business while pushing trivial issues. Why can’t they simply do the important stuff first?

    We have always feared the mischief that our citizen legislature can get into and by giving them annual sessions we will see more of this nonsense.

    Let your elected representatives know that we want Oregon’s business taken care of in a mature manner. Thank goodness we have a few like Rep. Richardson to return a bit of sanity to the process.

    • Brian A.

      I guess we also have to wonder why Rep. Richardson went to Indiana when time is ticking on the legislative session and we still have this important task of a budget to pass. if he can leave town and not get to the business of getting a budget, surely other legislators can put it off as well

      • Sakaki O.

        He stated why he went to Indiana. He went for a graduation. Someone he knew, probably a family member.

        Brian, you need to start getting a little tact together before opening your mouth.

    • Brian A

      I guess we also have to wonder why Rep. Richardson went to Indiana when time is ticking on the legislative session and we still have this important task of a budget to pass. if he can leave town and not get to the business of getting a budget, surely other legislators can put it off as well.

      • Steve Plunk

        The leadership is waiting for the newest revenue forecasts. Leadership controls the agenda timing in both houses so a single Representative could not force action.

  • Jerry

    Hey everybody! Any state with over 2 billion in highway money should be able to fund all the roads it needs. The only reason we can’t is that ODOT is government bloat at its finest. Private sector could do MUCH, MUCH better and everyone knows that. Why else would they even mention PRIVATE toll road development?
    Figure it out.

    • Captain_Anon

      well, for one private contractors do all the work for ODOT, and second, the toll roads in Indiana aren’t private. they are publicly built and run, which is why the state gets the money. And seriously, using your logic let’s look at california. Could they solve thier traffic and road woes with 2 billion?