The session ended June 29th and for virtually every Oregonian that was not a day too soon. The old adage really is true that "your money is not safe as long as the legislature is in session". On the House Floor and in private meetings with leadership, I was told the same thing that you were told, "we are facing a $4B deficit and our state revenue will be down." We were told that, "drastic cuts were necessary to balance the '09-'11 budget." We were told, "taxes must be raised to offset the state's projected decline in revenue." This is the story that Oregonians in and out of the legislature have been told for the past 6 months.
Here is a much different story, the truth:
General fund revenue, a fund supplied by income taxes is expected to increase from $13.2B to $13.4B this biennium.
The State spent $49.1B in the '07-'09 biennium and the legislature just adopted a $53.7B budget for the '09-'11 biennium, which represents a 9.3% increase in spending.
Oregonians have been lied to (or just not told the whole truth) and the result is that families will pay more at the grocery store, to fill their tank with gas and to raise their children. Businesses will pay more in numerous business taxes and fees that passed on nearly party line votes. One of the most egregious taxes is the "gross receipts tax". This tax has nothing to do with the profitability of a company.
I think the real problem that continues to plague Oregon is that we are trying to do and provide too much, as a state. We have gotten way too far away from the principles of Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson who believed that government should provide very few services and as Jefferson said, "Government should not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned." There are efforts underway to put some of these tax increases before the voters in January 2010 and let the voters decide if the legislature reached too deep into the pockets of all Oregonians.
I do feel, however, that I was successful in building relationships on both sides of the aisle and I was able to accomplish and get passed, several positive bills for constituents and Oregonians and was also successful in stopping some really harmful bills. So it wasn't all bad, just the majority. Somehow, we have to find the courage to reduce the size of state government. We have to educate people that government should not take care of us from cradle to grave, and personal responsibility must be a necessary part of our permanent recovery plan.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN E. HUFFMAN
House District 59