Millions of wild, oddball waste in mega-bill

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon

The mega-spending bill, Senate Bill 5506-1 has a massive amendment that spends tens of millions of dollars.

Quarter million for a failed streetcar for Salem.  $250,000 Cherriots – Study the feasibility of developing a rail streetcar system in the City of Salem (section 74).  Since streetcars/commuter trains in Portland, Beaverton, Wilsonville have grossly been over-cost and under-performed on riders, why not waste one in Salem?

$13 million for lawyers for illegal immigrants. Universal Representation Fund – Oregon Worker Relief for legal services ($4,800,000 section 84/85, $8,600 section 264, 265).  How many illegal border crossers are in Oregon that it takes $13 million to help their legal fees?   Is legal status costs more important than helping rape victims?   Because they need legal help too — and hundreds of Oregon rape kits have gone unprocessed for years.

$500,000 for questionable enviro-advocacy:  The bill spends $500,000 for the University of Oregon Just Futures Institute for equitable water access (section 58).   This Institute teaches, in part, how art can help people heal from the grief of climate change, how every single student deserves free breakfast and lunch from the government, how people can find healing by conjuring up secret Caribbean spirit beings at a time when the Caribbean health care (Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Vincent, Grenadines, others) is in extreme poverty and a health crisis. What did the Institute do with the five million they already received?   A tiny fraction of that $5 million could drill wells in the Caribbean or purchase life-saving children medicine and save lives immediately — or is it better to spend that money for expensive lectures on Caribbean spirituality?   That five million could go to people suffering from actual grief (crime victims since Portland hit crime records, Oregon veterans PTSD, refugees) as opposed to climate weather change grief being hawked by the Institute.

$100,000 ELVIS training (section 128).  We assume this is some emergency acronym, but this is all that is provided to the public in the initial report.

$44,000 for pizza.   $44,811 for the Atlantis Lounge (section 254) – A music room to help a private pizza restaurant, Mississippi Pizza.  Why does this pizza place get $44,000 when there are other pizza places it competes with mere minutes away?  As seen on the chart below:

By the way, Oregon home-grown pizza chain, Hot lips Pizza, closed most of their stores this year (first closure in their near 50 year history).  Do they get to collect their $44,000 tax funded pizza grants as well?

$285,580 Crystal Ballroom (section 254).  Possibly Oregon’s most successful home-grown restaurant chain, needs a quarter million of tax dollars to survive.  I guess in Oregon the more successful you are the more money you need from the government.

$33,057 Kickstand Comedy (formerly Brody Theater) (section 254).   Tax dollars for comedy, how not funny.   They made do public park events, but is that not better served for local funding as opposed to statewide funding?

Disclaimer: We are just hours into studying the bill in hopes of making these details public before lawmakers vote on such spending.   We will add details and adjust assumptions as we learn them. If you have any input please email us below:

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