Rep. Dallum on voting against the tobacco tax

In keeping you informed, this extra Update comes to address one topic: HB 2967–referral to the voters on children’s health care. This referral will cost $1.8 million of your tax dollars to bring to a vote.

I voted against this bill for a number of reasons, which I would like to state briefly. First, the critical concerns for such an important program is stable, sustainable funding and the implementation of a program I see to be creating more layers of bureaucracy””translate: money spent on another administration and less to those in need, Oregon’s children.

Second, with $2.5 BILLION in new revenue for 2007-2009, we could easily support health programs through our existing resources and without raising taxes. We are not maximizing the Oregon Health Plan. It is a known fact that almost 60% of the uninsured children are eligible for OHP. Logically, making the existing programs more efficient and effective would go a long way to solving health care needs right now. Building a new program with another administration would use up precious funds and take time.

Third, the version of this bill is similar to the Healthy Kids Act: revenue from a tobacco tax increase would be directed to OTHER programs besides children’s health care. There is a provision that allows the Legislature to redirect the dollars if it determines the program is fully funded. However, considering the program’s projected double-digit growth, this bill will force the Legislature to raise taxes or cut the insurance coverage when the tobacco revenue falls short.

As it is, the Legislature referring this to the voters will spend more money, tax a shrinking minority, and is another example of Democrats unwilling to find a compromise in the legislative process, and getting the voters to do the work the legislators were elected to do.

If it is true that it takes a village to raise a child, then the burden falls on all shoulders, not a few.

It is a mistake to think that this is a simple issue with an easy taxation solution. Without stable and sustainable funding this initiative will not do what we want it to do”¦provide affordable and accessible health care for children. Instead, what we will find is inadequate bureaucracy that does not cover the kids who need insurance.

Reason and compassion dictate that we do better by our children than to start a flawed initiative.

Rep John Dallum