By Taxpayers Association of Oregon
Today, the Court of Appeals decision over a timber lawsuit, ruled against rural communities and the $1.1 billion in lost revenue owed to them by the State of Oregon. This loss of $1.1 billion happened when the politicians voided a longstanding contract since 1941 that secured dedicated timber land for harvesting to fund local government and rural communities. The politicians sought to freeze the land and then block rural Oregon from using the land.
The issue is now being appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court.
This follows a pattern of the courts protecting State Government. For instance, in the 1990s when the Public Employee Pension system was becoming a billion dollar deficit problem, voters approved reforms with Measure 8. The courts struck down the reforms. The PERS debt grew from billions to tens of billions over the next few years. Lawmakers themselves passed reforms in 2013 (SB 822 and SB 861) to contain the cost, yet the Courts stepped in and voided both reform bills.
When voters tried to slow the rates of new taxes they passed a ballot measure requiring a 60% vote threshold on new taxes. The politicians found a way around it by adjusting current taxes to raise revenue instead of passing new taxes. Despite obvious skirting the Constitution, and will of the voters, the Courts said that “adjusting” taxes is not the same as raising taxes — even if it means taxpayers will pay hundreds of millions in higher taxes with the adjustment.
This is a legal pattern of protecting the single greatest power in the State of Oregon (State Government itself) at the expense of the smaller voices of rural Oregon and hurting middle class taxpayers.
The legal pattern by the Courts is that the Constitution only works if it benefits the State, and consequently doesn’t work (and can be voided on remote technicalities) if it benefits the taxpayer.
As parts of rural Oregon are overrun with drug cartels, illegal pot farms and poverty, they sure could have used the funds that were promised by them.