For whom are you voting for Governor?
Republican Christine Drazan
Democrat Tina Kotek
Non-Affiliated Betsy Johnson
Some other candiate
Northwest Observer
Subscribe for Free Email Updates
Name:
Email:
Search Articles
       


Post an Event


St. Paul Rodeo
Thursday, June 30, 2022 at 9:00 am
Hundreds of community volunteers work shoulder to shoulder for months each year to put this traditional show together, and we welcome the world to St. Paul for five days filled with color, action, excitement, and something for everyone. So, head on out to St. Paul for a fun-filled experience during our 86th annual 4th of July rodeo celebration of the American cowboy and our western lifestyle!

www.stpaulrodeo.com

Mark your calendars now and join the fun at the 86 th Annual St. Paul Rodeo June 30, July 1,2,3, & 4, 2022.
St. Paul, OR



2022 Lincoln County Fair
Friday, July 1, 2022 at 10:00 am
FREE ADMISSION * July 1-3 * Newport, Oregon

Join Us for an Old-Fashioned 4th of July Celebration!
Details & event calendar: www.thelincolncountyfair.com
1211 SE Bay Blvd Newport, OR 97365



Marion County Fair
Friday, July 8, 2022 at 10:00 am
2022 Marion County Fair July 8-10, 2022 Friday: 10am – 11pm Saturday: 10am – 11pm Sunday: 10am – 6pm
Oregon State Fairgrounds 2330 17th ST NE Salem, OR 97301



Linn County Fair
Thursday, July 14, 2022 at 10:00 am
Linn County Fair July 14 - 16 2022
Linn County Expo Center 3700 Knox Butte RD E Albany, OR 97322



World Athletics Championships
Friday, July 15, 2022 at 8:00 am
The World Athletics Championships are coming to Eugene this summer (July 15-24 2022), the first time in history that the championships will be held in the United States. This mega-sporting event will showcase the best track and field athletes in the world. The event will bring 2,000 athletes from more than 200 nations, all competing for 49 gold medals. About 20,000 to 25,000 attendees are expected per session, with most days hosting two sessions (both morning and afternoon).
Eugene



Lane County Fair
Wednesday, July 20, 2022 at 11:00 am
Lane County Fair JULY 20 - 24, 2022 11:00am - 11:00pm
Lane Events Center 796 W 13th Ave, Eugene, OR 97402



Coos County Fair& Rodeo
Tuesday, July 26, 2022 at 8:00 am
Coos County Fair and Rodeo July 26 - 30, 2022
Coos County Fairgrounds 770 4th St, Myrtle Point, OR 97458



Malheur County Fair
Tuesday, August 2, 2022 at 10:00 am
Malheur County Fair August 2-6th
Desert Sage Events Center 795 N.W. Ninth St. Ontario, OR 97914



Union County Fair
Wednesday, August 3, 2022 at 10:00 am
Union County Fair August 3-6th 2022
3604 N 2nd St, La Grande, OR 97850



Yamhill County Fair & Rodeo
Wednesday, August 3, 2022 at 7:11 pm
Fair and Rodeo August 3-6, 7 am - 11 pm. Wed. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; Thur. Jo Dee Messina; Fri. Shenandoah; Sat. Night Ranger Kids rides Adults $12 Kids $6 Exhibits; Demolition Derby Saturday 168th Annual; Oregon's oldest Fair
Yamhill County Fairgrounds



Baker County Fair
Sunday, August 7, 2022 at 10:00 am
Baker County Fair August 7 - August 13
Baker County Fairgrounds 2600 East Street Baker City, OR 97814



Umatilla County Fair
Wednesday, August 10, 2022 at 10:00 am
Umatilla County Fair Aug. 10th-13th, 2022
1705 E. Airport Rd. PO Box 94 Hermiston, OR 97838



CLACKAMAS COUNTY FAIR & RODEO
Tuesday, August 16, 2022 at 10:00 am
CLACKAMAS COUNTY FAIR & RODEO August 16-20, 2022 10am - 10pm
Clackamas County Events Center 694 NE 4th Ave. Canby, OR 97013



Oregon State Fair
Friday, August 26, 2022 at 10:00 am
Which part of the Oregon State Fair are you most excited for? We'll keep adding to the fun all summer long!
Salem, Or



Oregon General Election
Tuesday, November 8, 2022 at 8:00 pm
Statewide


View All Calendar Events


New Filing Reveals Our Oregon’s Motives
Spoiler alert: They are as political as they come

In an ironic gaffe, new documents filed by Our Oregon in U.S. District Court assert the union-backed nonprofit seeks to protect Oregon election laws by breaking them.

The evidence comes by way of Our Oregon’s July 9 motion to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit against the Oregon Secretary of State, People Not Politicians v. Clarno, which challenges the secretary’s signature-gathering requirements for ballot initiatives during COVID-19.

Our Oregon opposes the plaintiffs’ position that their petition should be granted additional time and a lower threshold of signatures due to the conditions brought on by the pandemic. The organization claims it is a “watchdog” of the process.

In the motion, Our Oregon claims it “is opposed to (the petition) and would be involved in organizing a campaign against it if it were to qualify for the Nov, 3, 2020 ballot.” (emphasis added).

Even worse, an accompanying sworn declaration submitted by Our Oregon executive director Becca Uherbelau states that, “(A)llowing the Chief Petitioners to submit after the constitutional deadline (and at a lower threshold) would make it exponentially more difficult for Our Oregon, or anyone else, to organize an opposition campaign to IP 57. It takes months to build and fund a coalition in opposition to a ballot measure.” (emphasis added).

What Our Oregon neglected to mention is that it’s not allowed to work on ballot measure campaigns without registering as a PAC — i.e, after a petition qualifies for the ballot — and it’s currently under investigation by the Oregon Secretary of State and Attorney General for doing exactly that.

Freedom Foundation has filed the new evidence with the Secretary of State to aid in her ongoing investigation.

“We have accused Our Oregon of a lot of things, and rightfully so,” said Freedom Foundation Oregon Director Jason Dudash. “But we’ve never accused them of being the sharpest tools in the shed. They’ve essentially admitted to what we’ve accused them of in documents before a federal court.”

“It’s an ironic twist that they’re posing as defending the Secretary of State at the same time that the Secretary is investigating them for their serial election law violations”.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-10 10:54:26Last Update: 2020-07-10 10:55:50



Cutting the Budget: Intercity Passenger Rail
The taxpayers pay more for each ride than the rider does.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a multi-part series on the budget for the State of Oregon and where possible efficiencies can be found.

For years, fiscal conservatives in Oregon have railed (no pun intended) against inter-city passenger rail in Oregon. This isn't light rail, like you find in Portland, nor is is Amtrak, which has grey cars with the red and blue logo running north and south where it can squeeze on on freight rail tracks. No, this is inter-city passenger rail and the State of Oregon owns two train sets called Amtrak Cascades, which are kind of cream colored with a maroon and green swoosh on them. It's meant to carry passengers between cities, hence, intercity passenger rail.

These trains run from Eugene to Portland several times a day, and have been criticized for being highly subsidized. Ridership is flat -- a fact that may be driven by the not-so-great on-time performance of the system. In its defense, since freight trains get priority on the use of the rails, the Amtrak Cascades lines get pulled over to let freight through, but this single fact means that the train cannot be depended upon as a means of commuting -- at least not to a job where you are expected to show up on time. Ridership tends to be limited to Portland/Salem/Eugene shopping tourism, as far as that can go.

After the 2017 Transportation Package passed, Democrats made the general fund rail subsidy go away and turned it into an other funds allocation. The source of this money is a little bit cryptic and needs explanation. Remember, that general fund allocations are the first ones that the budget cutters go after -- especially if they aren't highly necessary core services, like public safety or indigent health care. For years, the subsidy to intercity passenger rail was listed as a general fund items and the budget dogs barked incessantly at it. More recently, the source of funds was changed to be from the "Lawnmower Fund" -- an "other fund" source -- possibly in an attempt to get the budget dogs to back off.

What is the "Lawnmower Fund"? This is more formally known as the Transportation Operating Fund. In Oregon, the state gas tax, which is constitutionally dediacated to the Highway Fund is collected at the rate of $0.36 per gallon of gasoline or diesel. Except, if you're not going to use the gasoline or diesel to operate a vehicle on the highway, you can fill out some paperwork and not pay the tax. Most people don't know this, or even if they do know, they don't care to bother with the paperwork to save less than a buck, so they just pay the tax on their can of lawnmower gas. The state estimates the amount of overpayment on this tax and diverts it from the Highway Fund and into the Transportation Operating Fund, which the Legislature can use as a slush fund for whatever it wants.

In this case, the money was slushed into Amtrak Cascades to the tune of $10 million. A re-thinking of this program could put that money in service of a better use. The Oregon Department of Transportation reports ridership for 2019 at 103,185 riders. Dividing $10 million by that number means that each ride is subsidized to the tune of about $97 per ride, which is far more than the cost of a ticket.

Savings: $10 million biennially


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-10 08:00:00Last Update: 2020-07-01 21:25:50



Salon Owner Bullied by Oregon Governor Sues State
State used CPS to harass Graham for engaging in legal business

On Thursday, July 9th 2020 a small business owner took steps in retaliation to aggressive harassment by the state of Oregon while the Salon owner was merely trying to adapt business practices during the mandated shutdown and take care of her family. Critics have noted the unfair bureaucratic separation between “essential” and “non-essential” business during the shutdown, and between the allowance of Big Retail to operate while forcing small businesses closed through draconian mandates.

Glamour! Institute for Freedom filed a civil rights suit against the State of Oregon and Governor Kate Brown on behalf of Lindsey Graham and her salon Glamour! Salon. On May 5th 2020 Lindsey Graham, owner of Glamour Salon in Salem Oregon chose to open her salon in protest of Governor Kate Brown’s unconstitutional and arbitrary shutdown. Graham wanted to get back to work to provide for her family. In response, Governor Kate Brown, the City of Salem, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) the Oregon Health Licensing Office and, worst of all, Child Protective Services engaged in an systematic effort to harass, bully, and punish Lindsey Graham and her family for engaging in legal business activities.

“Governor Brown arbitrarily identified some businesses a “essential” and others like my business as non-essential. Governor Brown shouldn’t be in the business of choosing winners and losers in the marketplace. Every business is essential to the business owner. If Lowes, Safeway, Walmart, McDonalds, Domino’s Pizza and other businesses can operate safely, so can mine and every other business in Oregon” said Lindsey Graham.

Critics of the shutdown have long noted that so-called "pot shops", abortion clinics, leftist riots and other establishments or activities seen as warm to the left have not faced shutdowns, nor harsh treatment from the authorities.

Graham continued, “It was an act of retribution when Governor Brown sent Oregon OSHA to improperly and illegally issue my business a $14,000 fine. But when she sent child protective services to my home, to search it and interview my young children without me or my husband being present, I knew I had to stand up to the Governor. Her efforts to use the power of the state to intimidate my family have failed and as a result yesterday, we filed a civil rights suit in federal court. This should never happen to anyone else again.”

In a different context, Governor Brown is noted to have said, “revenge is a dish best served cold and slowly,” a statement that does little to burnish her credentials as a person who cares about all Oregonians.


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-07-09 20:47:09Last Update: 2020-07-09 20:52:22



Meme of the Week
Your shrink called. Said you need more memes.




--Isaac Helland

Post Date: 2020-07-08 20:09:33



SEIU Cashes in on Public Labor
The public employee union was enabled by a 2019 bill

In a communcation to its members, the politically-charged, largest state public employee union sent a letter from its political director, Andrea Cooper to urge workers to work a phone bank to urge a Colorado Senator to vote to pass the HEROES Act. This act, which is a $3 trillion economic stimulus package, narrowly passed the House on May 15 by a vote of 208 - 199. It is stalled in the Senate. In the letter, Cooper intructs members

SEIU launched an Adopt A State program where members from states like Oregon can reach out to voters in swing states and convince them to demand that their Senator support the HEROES Act. SEIU 503 adopted Colorado and Senator Cory Gardner.

We’ll have a phone bank targeting Colorado voters and Senator Gardner next Thursday, July 16th, from noon to 3 p.m. There will be a brief training session prior to the phone bank and staff will be available if you have any questions or issues.

It's not terribly controversial that SEIU would support this bill and would ask its members to work to get it passed. What is controversial, is that it seems as if it is expected to be done during work hours, presumably while state workers are working on taxpayer time.

This kind of activity may not be illegal. In fact, it was made possible by a law passed during the 2019 session, HB 2016, which allows public employee unions to have their members perform union work on taxpayer time. Section 4, subsection (1) of the bill, passed in the House on a straight party-line vote, and over the objection of a single Democrat in the Senate (Betsy Johnson D-Warren), says:

(a) The public employer shall provide a reasonable term of release time for public employees to serve as designated representatives of the exclusive representative or an affiliated labor organization.

Section 2 describes what a "Designated Representative" is:

(1) “Designated representative” means a public employee: (a) Who is designated by the exclusive representative as a representative for the employees in a bargaining unit;

Section 3 describes what these "Designated Representatives" may do:

(1) A public employer shall grant public employees who are designated representatives reasonable time to engage in the following activities during the public employee’s regularly scheduled work hours without loss of compensation, seniority, leave accrual or any other benefits: ...(h) Perform any other duties agreed upon by a public employer and an exclusive representative in a collective bargaining agreement or any other agreement.

In a time where state budgets are awaiting a multi-billion dollar trim, critics have pointed out that it is is very poor taste to be using taxpayer-funded public employees to do politicking in Colorado.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-08 17:36:43Last Update: 2020-07-09 09:36:55



What Are These Legislators Up To?
A look at different types of bills.

An action proposed to be taken by the Legislature or either chamber is called a measure. If a measure is finally adopted, it is called an act. So, a bill passed by the Legislature is not a law until it is signed by the Governor. Until that time, it is an act of the Legislature.

Measures are numbered, and the numbers are unique within the two-year session (not to be confused with the individual long, short and possibly special "sessions"), so to uniquely identify a bill, you have to refer to its year and session.

These are the types of measures that you'll see introduced during a legislative session.

Bill (HB or SB)
This is most of the work of the Legislature. A measure that creates new law, amends or repeals existing law, appropriates money, prescribes fees, transfers functions from one agency to another, provides penalties, or takes other action.

Resolution (HJR, SJR, HR or SR)
A measure used for proposing Constitutional amendments, creating interim committees, giving direction to a state agency, expressing legislative approval of action taken by someone else, or authorizing a kind of temporary action to be taken. A joint resolution may also authorize expenditures out of the legislative expense appropriations. ​This measure may be used by the Senate or House for a measure to take an action that would affect only its own members, such as appointing a committee of its members, or expressing an opinion or sentiment on a matter of public interest. If it is used by both chambers, it is a joint resolution.

Note that these resolutions do not need the signature of the Governor. They merely need to pass both chambers to be adopted. When it comes to amending the US Constitution, it calls for actions by the state legislatures -- not the Governor.

Article V. The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;


Concurrent Resolution (HCR or SCR)
A measure affecting actions or procedures of both houses of the Legislative Assembly. A concurrent resolution is used to express sympathy, commendation, or to commemorate the dead.

Memorial (HJM, SJM, HM or SM)
​A measure adopted by either the Senate or House (a measure adopted by both is a joint memorial) to make a request of or express an opinion to Congress or the President of the United States, or both. Oddly, a “memorial” is not used to memorialize the dead.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-08 12:44:19Last Update: 2020-08-08 13:20:05



Cutting the Budget: Oregon State Library
We love libraries. but not to the tune of $10 million

Editor’s note: This is the second in a multi-part series on the budget for the State of Oregon and where possible efficiencies can be found.

Not many people know about the Oregon State Library. One of the strategic goals of the Oregon State Library, as expressed by the agency in it's budget presentation during the 2019 session, is to "Build awareness of the State Library." Some might say, that if you have a state agency that no one is aware of, maybe it doesn't need to exist -- especially if it is tapping over $10 million dollars from the state general fund.

At first blush, cutting the Orgon State Library might seem to be mean-spirited. Who didn't grow up spending time in the neighborhood library? To make matters worse, the Oregon State Library sponsors the very popular Ready to Read program which funds local libraries' programs to read to younger children. Still worse, it runs the program for persons with "print disabilities" which means Talking Books and Braille services. These facts might be a demagogue's dream, but they fade on closer inspection.

First, the State Library doesn't have much to do with the Ready to Read program. It merely administers the grants, and this could be done by any other agency. The programs for print disabled persons serves fewer and fewer people each year and soon will have fewer than 1,000 persons served. Most younger persons who are print disabled meet their needs through electronic means. Finally, the need for libraries as a place where books are checked out has effectively been replaced by Google. If that makes you sad, very well. If you think $10 million elsewhere in the budget will make you feel better -- or even returned to the taxpayers -- you might find a better case for that.

If you're a millenial you might want to pay a visit to the Oregon State Library. They have a card catalog room. If you don't know what a card catalog is or how to use it, you might want to get over there and check it out (no pun intended). Otherwise you might never see one.

The State Library gets about $6 million directly from the state general fund and about $4 million from assesments on other agencies, which is essentially general fund money.

Savings: $10 million biennially


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-08 08:00:00Last Update: 2020-07-01 21:21:50



Sherwood School District Issues Apology
Critics are asking for more information.

As reported on this site yesterday, the Sherwood School District published materials on its website, encouraging staff to "vote for Democrats" and engage in other explicitly political activity. Late yesterday, they removed the link to some of the offending materials. Today, they have issued an apology, which is reproduced, here.

Statement on Resource Materials

On June 4th, the Sherwood School District released a statement to our students, staff, and families expressing our horror at the tragic death of George Floyd and countless others before him, as well as our commitment to acting as anti-racist leaders. We stand by that statement and our commitment has not wavered.

In that statement, we provided several links for both families and for our staff. Regrettably, we included a resource for staff that we did not thoroughly vet, which made suggestions about how to vote in the upcoming election. We deeply regret the error of including this resource, and removed the link immediately once it was brought to our attention. We apologize for this error.

The Sherwood School District


Some critics have called this kind of activity "deep state" activity and are asking that the school district take action against the person responsible for this illegal activity.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-07 10:38:33Last Update: 2020-07-07 10:38:53



Sherwood School Board Has Some ‘Splainin‘ To Do
Looks more like a power grab than actual advice on how to teach.

On June 4, 2020, the Sherwood School District released a letter to parents, students, staff and community members. It addresses issues of race. The letter is not a big issue, it’s the links inside the digital letter that are a big issue.

Inside the letter are a couple of links called “resources”. The first is directed to staff. The second is directed to students and families. It’s the first that is a problem. Specifically the link on the “resource” page that is entitled: “Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice”. Don’t let the title fool you. The screenshot below tells you one part of the document that is the part ALL should be very concerned with. This is the school board and the school superintendent telling the staff to “vote Democrat” and to “contribute to Democrats”. That would be very, very forbidden for a school district to do. See graph from the link below:

I’ve been told that things like this are common from the teacher’s union but NOT from the school superintendent nor the school board. Note also that the school board chair is none other than Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen, the one who’s been working with the Governor on the coronavirus situation since it first started. This is a matter that will have to be addressed by the Secretary of State as it appears to be a clear violation of state campaign laws. I urge all who read this to write to the Secretary of State and demand this matter be investigated. If you live in Sherwood School District, you might contact the School Board members, too.

This school board is not a bunch of backwoods rubes. The director of the Oregon Health Authority and a Lobbyist for Providence Hospitals should both know better than to have such a naked, partisan push published on a taxpayer-funded website.

Further, as people are struggling with the government response to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as trying to thoughtfully respond to issues of race, it strikes me as very unsportsmanlike for the party in power to use public resources to increase its grip.

Oregon Revised Statute 260.432 on the use of public resources for political purposes is clear:

Solicitation of public employees; activities of public employees during working hours; recognized student government exception. (1) No person shall attempt to, or actually, coerce, command or require a public employee to influence or give money, service or other thing of value to promote or oppose any political committee or to promote or oppose the nomination or election of a candidate, the gathering of signatures on an initiative, referendum or recall petition, the adoption of a measure or the recall of a public office holder.

(2) No public employee shall solicit any money, influence, service or other thing of value or otherwise promote or oppose any political committee or promote or oppose the nomination or election of a candidate, the gathering of signatures on an initiative, referendum or recall petition, the adoption of a measure or the recall of a public office holder while on the job during working hours. However, this section does not restrict the right of a public employee to express personal political views.

Update: The Sherwood School District has replaced the "resource" document referred to in this article with an updated version that does not have the link to Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice.




--State Representative Bill Post

Post Date: 2020-07-06 17:21:37Last Update: 2020-07-06 19:22:43



OHA Director, Health Care Lobbyist Implicated in Using Public Resources
Public website links telling people to “vote for Democrats” are certainly illegal

In a shocking and brazen display of raw partisanship, the Sherwood School District posted a letter on its website that referenced a list of Resources for Staff Members with links to a document entitled Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice suggesting that educators "Vote for Democrats" and "Donate to campaigns of local progressive politicians...who are trying to unseat incumbent Republicans/conservatives."

The letter was posted Jun 4, 2020, 11:07 AM by Christine Andregg, who is listed in the School District staff directory as working for the district office.

The resource referenced above, contained graphics, including one section with a sub-heading "Electoral Politics" which said,

"Vote for Democrats. Exception could be voting for candidates of color in elections where a White person and a person of Color are running for the same position from the same political party."

"Donate to campaigns of progressive people of Color running for political offices. Donate to campaigns of local progressive politicians in other cities/States who are trying to unseat incumbent Republicans/conservatives."

"Actively fundraise for and campaign on behalf of progressive/radical politicians (especially non-White people), including those running in local elections (school boards, transportation agencies, housing authorities, city councils)."


Another section, entitled "Your Job" encourges Sherwood School District employees to use their job function to tip the scales in favor of minorities, presumably above the current legal requirements to do so.

"Use your job position to help Black, Brown, and Indigenous People. Ex: purposefully seek out Black and Brown people to interview for jobs, and use Black caterers, or Indigenous speakers."



The posting is almost certainly in violation of Oregon Law. ORS 260.432 makes clear:

(2) No public employee shall solicit any money, influence, service or other thing of value or otherwise promote or oppose any political committee or promote or oppose the nomination or election of a candidate, the gathering of signatures on an initiative, referendum or recall petition, the adoption of a measure or the recall of a public office holder while on the job during working hours. However, this section does not restrict the right of a public employee to express personal political views.


A similar incident was made public by the Northwest Observer in June, when staff from the Governor's office was reported linking to similar documents.

The letter was signed by all the members of the of the Sherwood School Board, as well as the Superintendent:

Dr. Heather Cordie, Superintendent is a registered Democrat. You can contact her at hcordie@sherwood.k12.or.us

Patrick Allen, Board Chair is a registered Democrat. Interestingly, he's no stranger to controversy these days as the Department Head of the Oregon Health Authority. You can contact him in his capacity as Board Chair at patrickallen@sherwood.k12.or.us

Sue Hekker, Board Vice Chair, is a registered Democrat. You can contact her at hcordie@sherwood.k12.or.us

Eric Campbell, Board Member is a registered Democrat. You can contact him at ericcampbell@sherwood.k12.or.us

Jessica Adamson, Board Member is a registered Democrat, who is also a registered lobbyist and Director of Government Relations, Oregon at Providence Health & Services. It is not known what professional relationship she has with the OHA director. You can contact her at jessicaadamson@sherwood.k12.or.us

Michael Hiland, Board Member is a registered Democrat. You can contact him at michaelhiland@sherwood.k12.or.us

Update: The Sherwood School District has replaced the "resource" document referred to in this article with an updated version that does not have the link to Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-06 17:05:21Last Update: 2020-07-06 19:09:06



Cutting the Budget: A Multipart Series
An in-depth look at the State budget

Editor’s note: This is the first in a multi-part series on the budget for the State of Oregon and where possible efficiencies can be found.

This article is the first in a series of articles on the budget of the State of Oregon, with a specific focus on how it can be cut is such a way that minimizes the impact on taxpayers. Oregon does budgets on a two-year cycle, called a biennium, which means that spending and revenue are projected for two years. If you'd like to, you can read the entire 546 page budget for the 2019-21 biennium. If you are busy and don't really have the time, you can read the 2019-21 Budget Highlights which is only 207 pages long. Spoiler alert: The final tally is $85.8 Billion.

The primary source for information on the budget is the Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office, which works for the legislature to craft the budget. Working out of the limelight, they do the work of listening to the various elected officials and weaving their priorities into the budget (actually many budgets) that the legislature votes on.

This series is focused on budget cuts, and some cuts make more sense than others -- not because of where the money is spent -- but because of where the money comes from. For instance, about $22.4 Billion is the General Fund, which, for the most part, comes from income taxes paid by individuals and corportations. Cuts from these funds would make possible tax cuts or other spending possibilities, as decided by the legislature. This is where the real action is. As a side note, even though much of lottery funds are dedicated, lottery funds most always displace spending that would be general fund spending if the lottery funds were not available. Because of that, lottery funds are viewed as similar to general funds.

A slightly larger chunk of the budget is money from the Federal Government. It may be easy to say, “Let’s cut welfare,” but at the end of the day, most welfare -- though administered by the state -- is paid for by the Federal Government. It's surely true that these are still taxpayer dollars and that the money ultimately comes proportionally from Oregonians, or -- because the feds are so deep in debt -- from Oregonian’s grandkids, but cuts to federally funded programs merely create space for the feds to fund another program in another state.

The last kind of revenue is called "Other funds" and it’s not just an "everything that doesn’t fit" category. It has an actual meaning. It’s all the money that the state receives in the form of fees, fines and sales. In a perfect world, the state would have all people who use state services pay for those services, and the state does this as far as it is able and fair. So, if you want to camp in a state park, the state charges you a fee for that to cover the costs of maintenance. Lately, state parks have been booking up earlier and earlier, and if the state of Oregon was a for-profit entity, they would keep increasing the price, as the demand went up. As a state steward of all the resources for all Oregonians, the state has determined that these resources should be available to all Oregonians, not just the rich. That makes some sense, though now they are only available to those who click the fastest.

In other ways, the state tries to get payment from those who use the services. If you drive a car, you use the roads in the state and you’ll probably eventually buy gas, which is taxed and constitutionally dedicated to roads. If you walk, you don't pay that tax. The same is true if you buy a fishing license, rent public housing, or many other ways to use state services that are not availble to all.

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to charge people for the services they are provided. Some of the Oregon Health Plan, for instance, is funded by the state general fund. We can’t charge poor people a health care premium that they are unable to afford. And good luck trying to get inmates in the Oregon State Correctional Institutions to pay for their room and board, though they are involved in some economic activities that bring money into the state. You guessed it. This money is called "other funds."

In the coming days, this series will explore in detail possible cuts to Oregon's budget. This is a questions that will arise during upcoming sessions and long into the future. This is a conversation that is sometimes obscure, sometimes controversial, and sometimes in the tall weeds, but is always necessary.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-06 08:00:00Last Update: 2020-07-06 08:28:05



Opinion:Celebrating Our Freedom
We have much to celebrate and yet much work still to do

2020 has turned out differently than most of us envisioned. In January if I had written an email with the terms “Coronavirus” or “Social Distancing”, I suspect you would’ve tilted your head as you thought about such a strange world. Now several months in and after a second extension of the Governor’s state of emergency, we find ourselves wondering how to celebrate our nation’s birthday.

July 4, 1776 is the birthday of our great nation. However, a new narrative has recently emerged that challenges the founding principles of why the pilgrims came to America. They came in pursuit of religious freedom and over time we became one nation under God and with liberty and justice for all. The 1619 Project, promoted by many progressive liberals and the New York Times, provides Americans with an alternative beginning, redefining the motivation for our nation’s founding based on slavery.

On our nation’s 244th birthday we find ourselves at a consequential cross road — will we choose freedom or will we choose something else? That said, this is not the first time that we have faced such difficult challenges. In the Cold War we fought and defeated communism. In World War II we fought and defeated fascism. In the Civil War we fought and defeated slavery. Today we face communism, fascism and false ideas about our nation’s history concerning slavery — all at the same time. Solomon was certainly right when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Liberty has always been the enemy of tyranny. While our natural state yearns to be free, the natural state of government desires to enslave those it governs. It is a constant battle and one that never ends. “The price for liberty is eternal vigilance” rings true. Indeed, freedom is not free. There is always a price to be paid. Freedom requires patriots to stand in the gap, to stand and fight Liberty’s enemies in order to preserve the rights documented by our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence.

This Independence Day I ask you to take a few moments to be thankful for the freedoms we all enjoy today. While not perfect, America still is a bright beacon of the world and the most free nation that has ever existed. I also ask you to take a few moments to decide what you will do during the next several months to preserve these freedoms for the generations to come. Edmund Burke once wrote, “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.” Let history show we were not the generation that did nothing, but rather the ones who pulled together and gave Liberty the wind in her sails for the next 244 years.

God bless you. God Bless Oregon. And may God Bless the United States of America. Let Freedom Ring!


E. WERNER RESCHKE
State Representative
Southern Klamath & Lake Counties

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1456
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-384, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.EWernerReschke@OregonLegislature.gov
Website: www.oregonlegislature.gov/reschke

Facebook: Facebook.com/wernerfororegon


--State Representative E. Werner Reschke

Post Date: 2020-07-03 17:00:00



Read More Articles