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Legislators need to adopt budget reforms.

Byline: Kevin Mannix For The Register-Guard

As voters turn in their ballots before the Tuesday deadline, I ask the same question The Register-Guard asked in its Jan. 18 editorial: What kind of state do Oregonians want for themselves and their children? I believe they want a state where their leaders are willing to consider real government reforms instead of raising taxes.

And yes, as The Register-Guard put it, "Measure 30 is ... a referendum on the Legislature itself." It's time for voters to once again send a strong message to their elected officials in Salem, including the governor, that more taxation is not the answer.

In order to produce more revenue for critical state services, we need to grow the economy. Translation: jobs. You don't get jobs by increasing taxes.

Measure 30 is a billion-dollar tax package that hits income taxpayers (including seniors trying to cover their medical expenses), homeowners and small business owners. Measure 30 is especially tough because it is retroactive to last year, and six of the 10 proposed tax changes are permanent.

The Legislature and the governor need to return to Salem in special session as soon as possible to start making adjustments to the budget. I have laid out a detailed list of budget reform options. These range from retracting the bonuses the governor granted to thousands of state managers to capturing delinquent taxes in a new tax recovery program.

Some of the ideas spelled out on Jan. 26 by Kelly Stephenson of The Register-Guard's 20Below news team are especially impressive. Even a senior at Sheldon High School recognizes the importance of imposing a constitutional spending cap and the creation of a rainy day fund. I have proposed both ideas during this debate over the biggest tax increase in Oregon history.

We need to implement positive solutions; to provide enough resources to protect our most vulnerable citizens, ensure public safety and keep our schools intact without increasing the tax burden on hard-working Oregonians. Even The Register-Guard said in a Jan. 13 news story that "Kevin Mannix made the strongest argument for the Legislature to return to Salem to prevent cuts," by pointing out that what I called the "draconian, nasty disappropriations" can be avoided with "less painful alternatives."

Many options have received little or no consideration from the Legislature and the governor - options that could free up funding for classrooms and other important programs, such as health care for the needy.

I applaud the school districts in Lane County for being prudent in their budgeting. According to the Lane Council of Governments' recent survey, several districts budgeted conservatively, not counting on the additional revenue from Measure 30. The Jan. 22 Register-Guard reported that Eugene and Springfield, the two largest districts, are not expecting significant cuts next year because they played it safe and were cautious in planning their budgets.

In addition, the same article reported that Lane Community College will also avoid further cuts next year because of its sensible budget practices. LCC also did not plan on receiving revenue from Measure 30.

One idea from my list that could put millions back in the budget for kindergarten through 12th grade schools is eliminating the certificate of initial mastery and certificate of advanced mastery, or CIM-CAM, program A new report from the state shows the number of Eugene graduates achieving a CIM has dropped 13 percent in the past three years. In fact, the Jan. 5 Register-Guard quoted a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Education saying the last thing districts need "is this CIM thing."

In an Aug. 24, 2003, editorial, The Register-Guard called on me to explain the changes I would make to fund critical state services. I have delivered on that challenge. You can see my list of budget reform options at www.orgop.org.

Now I have a challenge for the Legislature and the governor: If the voters of this great state say no to Measure 30, they should reconvene immediately and adopt real reforms.

Kevin Mannix is chairman of the Oregon Republican Party.
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:672
Previous Article:The youngest prisoners.
Next Article:Lane County readers weigh in on Measure 30 tax package.


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