Friday, November 20, 2009

Don’t Californicate Oregon

On Jan. 26, 2010, we’ll find out if Oregonians choose to not follow California’s lead by affirming the role of the Legislature to propose and enact laws in the state.

Californians long ago ceded that authority by approving propositions that tie up 80 percent of that state’s budget. Couple that with California’s assembly two-thirds majority required to pass laws and you have what Republicans have longed for: gridlock.

This is understandable in a state where gridlock is a daily ritual on freeways, highways and alleyways. The California government merely represents what the state has become: unmanageable, ungovernable and undriveable.

Oregon isn’t there yet, even though former Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber said so earlier this decade. He made those claims while enduring a Republican-controlled Legislature which focused on placing the government in the bedroom – abortion, gay rights, assisted suicide – and out of the role of managing the state’s affairs.

Oregon has a Democratic governor and Legislature. To balance the budget last session in this Great Recession, they increased the minimum corporate from $10 to $150. This tax has not increased since 1931, during the Great Depression.

Please, $150 dollars? That’s less than corporate bigwigs spend on an afternoon with a prostitute. It’s less than what they spend on a bottle of wine at an upscale restaurant. Yet, these corporatists would rather see schools close, crime increase and health care diminish should this tax fail to pass in January.

The Legislature also increased taxes on a mere 2.5 percent of the population: the wealthiest people in the state, those making more than $250,000 as a couple or more than $125,000 as an individual.

If a couple makes $260,000 a year, they would pay an additional $180 a year in taxes until 2012. We’re talking $15 dollars a month. That less than what a couple might pay for a couple of lattes and scones on a Saturday morning. It’s ridiculous to think that these people will move elsewhere or work less because of this “onerous” tax. Complete bullshit.

The far greater concern is if these tax increases don’t pass. Oregon will have to shut down schools at least a month earlier in May, lay off police officers and let people die because they’re denied health care. Would any business want to relocate to a state like that? Absolutely not.

They want a state that cares about itself. California has shown that it does not and is losing businesses because of that fact.

The question, to be answered on Jan. 26 is: Do Oregonians care about Oregon?

Stay tuned.

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