Measure 28: No cure for Oregon’s ailing economy

Many proponents of Measure 28 advocate it as the key to bolstering Oregon’s ailing economy. However, if higher taxes and more government spending were truly the cause of a strong economy, then Oregon would currently enjoy one of the healthiest economies in the nation.

Cascade Policy Institute president Steve Buckstein points out, “The state’s general fund budget has grown at double-digit rates for decades.” Thus, the state’s general fund budget has more than doubled from $5.5 billion in 1991 to $11.3 billion today. Government officials have managed to find ways to spend all of this and more, and now tell us we need to let them take more to cover their spending habits.

In an interview with The Oregonian editorial board Governor Ted Kulongoski stated, “The problem is, we haven’t been truthful. We always tell the public the sky is falling…and we always find a way to get by. The public doesn’t believe us anymore.” Yet those supporting Measure 28 offer a doomsday scenario if the measure fails.

Pro-Measure 28 forces maintain that the tax rate increase will be temporary, just to tide us over until things improve. However, Buckstein and Cascade chairman William B. Conerly, Ph.D, warn, should Measure 28 pass “one unintended consequence will be to set the state up for future budget shortfalls.” There is no guarantee that the government will live within Oregonians’ means: the temporary increase will become permanent.

Common sense leads us to some questions. If politicians and bureaucrats will not reign in spending during a recession, why should we believe they would in a robust economy? If higher taxes are good for the economy, why not let them take our entire paycheck and solve the problem once and for all? Maybe higher taxes aren’t the solution.

Truxton Meadows is a research associate 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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