Improving Oregon’s budget and business climate

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Now that Oregon has a new governor-elect, speculation begins about how he will deal with Oregon’s continuing budget shortfall and poor business climate.

Conventional wisdom says that the union-friendly Democrat Kulongoski will be good for government, but bad for business. Not necessarily.

There are examples in this country and the world of politicians suddenly reaching out to their political opponents for the good of their constituents. The Republican President Richard Nixon opening the door to Communist China is a classic example. Had a liberal Democrat tried to make such a move he might have been politically crucified. However, American anti-communists were effectively muted when one of their own came out and said it was time to begin a dialog with the Red Chinese.

Internationally, the labor government of New Zealand, after presiding over a near socialist system in the 1980s, suddenly began a systematic privatization of industry and elimination of major tax subsidies for sheep ranchers in order to revive the faltering economy. It was the liberals who privatized that country’s post office and telecommunications industry.

During the campaign, Kulongoski told The Oregonian editorial board that the current governor should have invited Cascade Policy Institute to the table looking for ways to forestall the looming state budget crisis. It didn’t happen under Kitzhaber. If it happens under Kulongoski, the result can be a more prosperous, less taxing state.

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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