A fine-tooth budgetary comb

On September 9, Alabama voters rejected a $1.2 billion tax increase. Some 67 percent of voters just said no.

This past January, Oregonians said no to a “temporary” three-year income tax hike when they voted down Measure 28. The message fell upon deaf ears: legislators’ pushed through a larger three-year tax hike.

Oregon editorial boards, elected officials and others repeatedly stated that everything possible was done to cut costs. The budget had been gone over with a fine-tooth comb.

Actually, it was a toothless comb.

The Oregon State Fair still receives millions of dollars in subsidies. End them and we’ll certainly survive. Privatize the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, sell the warehouses, and thus save on PERS expenses. Remove costly mandates to make health insurance more affordable for more people; that’s a ticket to making reductions to the Oregon Health Plan.

Properly done, competitive bidding for public services can reduce the cost of government and improve service provision. For example, the Lincoln County School District has reduced expenses by contracting with private companies to manage its food, transportation, and custodial services. More competitive bidding can help reduce the K-12 education budget.

Public officials will honestly need to get out a fine-tooth comb if Citizens for a Sound Economy-Oregon and the Taxpayers Association of Oregon successfully get a referendum on the ballot to repeal the Legislative tax hike. That’s okay, there’s plenty of hair on the government head.

Kurt T. Weber is vice president of 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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