By editorial board • 

There’s no tax too large, no tax too petty for Gov. Brown

Gov. Kate Brown ran a re-election campaign virtually free from any policy or program agenda. She settled for praising her past accomplishments of dubious authenticity, promising to protect abortion rights from largely non-existent attacks and painting her moderate Republican opponent as a heartless Trump clone.

In fact, she actively resisted releasing measures that state agencies were proposing for the 2019 legislative session, even though they’ve been routinely released in the past. She cited attorney-client privilege, a reliable old standby for bureaucrats intent on tying up public record requests in court.

As a result, the opposing candidates largely remained holed up in their respective bunkers, from which they spent $35 million launching a barrage of advertising missiles at each other. Electoral wars once fought in the trenches are now, it seems, waged from the safety of distant command centers.

Well, in case you were wondering what Brown had in store, once she had a re-election mandate and twin legislative supermajorities at her disposal, here it is:
1) “Negotiating a massive tax increase to improve public schools” as The Oregonian put it. That’s priority No. 1, we’re told, not addressing the cavernous $22 billion shortfall in Oregon’s legendarily over-generous Public Employee Retirement System.

2) Instituting a new tax plan to close a Medicare funding gap largely responsible for a projected $623 million state budget gap. The newly unveiled $700 million plan, it appears, is the product of secret negotiations dating back six months. Key elements include new taxes on the business community and a $2 a pack increase in the cigarette tax.

3) Allocating $2 million to fund legal challenges to the Trump administration, $2 million in legal assistance to undocumented immigrants facing deportation and $2.7 million to begin covering postage for mailed-in ballots. But providing no increase in funding for our beleagured state college system, continuing a prolonged pattern of ruinous disinvestment.

4) Creating a new agency, the Oregon Climate Authority. Can a new carbon tax plan be far behind?

The only item Brown included to address the PERS crisis was a proposed $100 million to help the school system, but no other state or local agency, with a burden projected to become $1.5 billion heavier during the coming biennium. She termed that seum a downpayment on the full amount, which she expects the Legislature to cover for the school system, but no other state or local agency.

Wonder why she strove to keep her agenda secret until after the election was safely past? Wonder no more.


Don Dix

It's absurd that the electorate will vote against most tax increases, yet every election the same tax and spend (foolishly) faces are returned to Salem by that same electorate to do it all over again. Isn't that one way of defining of 'insanity'?

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