Ethics Agency to change

From Senate Republicans press release 6-8-07:

Senate to Vote on Stable, Independent Funding for Legislative Ethics Watchdog

Salem, OR — After Friday morning, the state’s ethics oversight committee could be on its way to independent funding. Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) is bringing a new, stable and independent funding mechanism for the Government Standards and Practices Commission (GSPC) to the Senate floor. If adopted, voters would have the chance to approve an endowment of $14.5 million to provide permanent funding for GSPC.

“Providing permanent, stable and independent funding will take the politics out of ethics oversight,” said Starr. “This is important for not only legislators but every public body in Oregon.” Senator Starr will offer the concept as an amendment to House Joint Resolution 14A. Starr’s amendment places $14.5 million in an endowment fund this budget cycle. The fund would grow for perpetuity and give GSPC a permanent yearly budget of $600,000 that will adjust for inflation, and feed the ethic’s watchdog independent of legislative appropriations. The Governor’s 2007-09 budget recommends $500,000 for GSPC’s yearly budget. It is the GSPC’s mission to provide fair, independent and impartial administration of the state’s ethics law.
“Oregon is ready for leaders who are above ethical reproach and who are willing to put a funding mechanism beyond the reach of lawmakers,” said Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), Senate Republican Leader. “An independent watchdog is critical to keeping public officials accountable to the ones they serve.”

By making a one-time investment to create an endowment for GSPC, future legislatures would be removed from the issue of funding and Oregonians would have certainty that GSPC will never again be dependent on the legislature for its existence.