Can you hear us now?

As Yogi Bera said, “this is like deja vu all over again.” Last December Oregon legislators waited to see if voters would buy their January 28th income tax increase. It was soundly rejected. This month, legislators wait to see if those same voters will accept their $1.1 billion tax package, set for a vote February 3rd.

One difference is that last January’s vote was scheduled by the legislature. Next February’s vote was demanded by some 147,000 Oregonians signing petitions to refer the tax package to the ballot. In the one hundred year history of Oregon’s initiative and referendum system, no measure ever collected so many signatures.

Supporters of the tax package claim that no one has put forward a Plan B to show Oregonians how our state can live within its means. They conveniently forget that many legislators tried to enact such an alternative plan in the last session, but were outvoted.

They also conveniently forget that Cascade Policy Institute has been suggesting ways to reduce the role of government in Oregonian’s lives for thirteen years. They ignore our many reports, and the advice given by our many experts who explain how governments elsewhere cut costs and improve service through contracting out, privatization and other means.

Voters know there are alternatives to Oregon’s tax and spend culture. The question is: how many times do legislators have to be told before they understand?

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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