By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Lawmakers engage in state money-grab

Oregon lawmakers have successfully diverted $108 million from the “kicker” that otherwise would have been returned to Oregon taxpayers as per the state constitution. But don’t even try to understand the complex budget maneuvers used by legislators and signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Besides, it’s small potatoes. Next up, the ruling Democratic Party plans to extract an additional $2 billion from Oregonians by forcing businesses to raise the cost of our goods and services. They call it a gross receipts tax on business, but as with all business costs, it will be passed along to consumers.

It’s all supposedly well-motivated, since the super-majority Democrats say they covet that money to improve our schools and other public services. But behind that curtain there is the notorious reality that our ruling party created an unsustainable public pension program and, for decades, has steadfastly declined to fix it.

It’s a system that pays four people more than $500,000 per year, topping out at $913,335. It pays in excess of $100,000 annually to more than 2,000 retirees. Yet, most public employees get nothing so grandiose in retirement, as lawmakers allowed built-in inequities that discriminated based on choices made in those retirement plans.

The financial forays continue: Gov. Brown plans to raid reserves of the long-sacrosanct State Accident Insurance Fund to back-fill the failing public pension program. There goes protection against spiraling costs of workers compensation insurance, another business cost that gets passed along to Oregon consumers.

We continue to hear the drumbeat from liberal spenders that Oregon businesses do not pay enough in taxes. Instead, Oregon has a high personal income tax rate, which traditionally was more transparent to taxpayers than the pass-along cost of business taxes. But even that transparency has suffered from complex state tax codes that cloak the real costs through disconnection with federal income tax laws.

This week, we started seeing a statewide advertising campaign resisting the money-grab in Salem. It is sponsored by Brighter Oregon, which calls itself “a broad and growing statewide coalition of Oregon consumers, taxpayers, small and large businesses, associations and organizations.”

Brighter Oregon, formed two years ago by the major Oregon business associations, hopes to engage all Oregonians in its battle against excessive taxation. One major mission is to require true and lasting pension program reform as a condition of temporary and limited tax increases.

All I can say, from 40-plus years of watching Oregon lawmakers, is, Good Luck!

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


Don Dix

It doesn't take any sort of genius to figure out the situation in Oregon government -- the legislative candidates are showered with campaign cash if, and only if, they 'promise' no PERS reform (just find more money to fund it). And that's about the only campaign promise that will see any light.

There is a reason the gov. didn't release her state budget proposal until after the election (12.4 increase over last budget). She knew the truth might influence the undecided to vote for her opponent, and possible defeat. She counted on the 'uninformed' to blindly vote party line, and it worked like a charm.

If one desires a state government that truly represents the people, and not special interests, Oregon would never be the choice.


A super majority is a never a good way to run a government. I'm hoping a third party, Independents?, can get enough elected to be able to balance the extremes of both parties back toward the center.

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