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Takin’ it to the streets — again

QuickPoint!

What do you think about the recent politician-approved three-year “temporary” state income tax increase? Regardless of your answer, you’ll likely get the chance to speak your mind at the polls.

Citizens for a Sound Economy-Oregon and the Taxpayers Association of Oregon are working to place an initiative on the ballot and give citizens the opportunity to repeal the $800 million tax hike. If referendum supporters collect 50,000 valid signatures by November 25, the vote will take place February 3, 2004. That would be almost one year after Oregonians defeated a smaller tax hike that legislators put forth.

This referendum wouldn’t be necessary had the Legislature acted responsibly throughout the Roaring 90s and last session. However, legislators added new programs — such as the Oregon Cultural Trust — and continually ignored fiscal train wrecks — like PERS.

Minnesota’s newly-elected Governor Tim Pawlenty faced a $4.6 billion budget shortfall — a euphemism for “political spending addiction,” the fourth largest in the country. He threatened to shut down the government if Gopher State legislators pushed higher taxes to fix their spending habit. Cuts were made.

Governor Kulongoski should have done the same. Instead, he broke his often-repeated campaign pledge against a general tax increase. Moreover, he brushed aside the recent state-wide voter rejection of higher taxes.

The fate of the income tax increase remains to be seen. However, one thing is certain: Oregonians are takin’ it to the streets — again.

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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