May 25, 2019
Several major legislative events transpired in the last two weeks will impact you in the future.
First, two weeks ago, the State Revenue Forecast combined with the new majority approved Gross Receipts Tax provides Oregon with a 24% increase in general fund revenue. That is the largest increase in nearly twenty years. That is nearly a $5 billion dollar increase in funds.
Last week, the majority Democrats, with many Republicans, approved the K-12 Education Budget in HB 5016. According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, this is a 1.7% general fund increase for K-12 education in the next biennium. It did not even cover inflation for the past two years. Despite media hype, rhetoric, and propaganda, School Districts are going to be forced to make hard choices again. Meaning possible cuts. There are certainly some accounting shenanigans which you can see for yourself at the link. Nobody in the majority wants to answer the question as to WHY they have a 24% revenue increase yet only a minor 1.7% general fund increase to the School Formula distributed to K-12 school districts.
The answer is simple. As Senate President Peter Courtney stated in the Education Committee, the new "education" revenue will be spent elsewhere to increase the size of state government. Not on K-12 education. It is time for reform.
Please note, the Gross Receipts Tax dollars for "school improvement" is a grant program in which districts apply, that is if they have grant writers, and meet criteria for improvements for one-time grants. In short, it helps the under-performing urban metro school districts, which need help, but it will leave out much of rural Oregon. The reason is simple. Rural schools are performing better than the metro school districts, in general. Yet, short of massive reforms, every school needs help but the K-12 Education Budget in HB 5016 does not reflect it,
Second. Supposedly, the Portland-centric Oregon Business & Industries' secret support of the deal for Oregon's new sales tax was dependent upon public employee retirement reforms. Hence, SB 1049 was passed by 13 Democrats and 3 Republicans in the Oregon State Senate this week all close legislative associates to Senate President Peter Courtney. Unfortunately, it is not PERS reform. Again, unfortunately, the agreement, buy-in, or participation of the stakeholders like legislators, union members, and the public was non-existent. Oregon has a very serious financial problem with unfunded PERS. I believe every stakeholder — legislators, unions, and the taxpaying public — has to be at the table to formulate a solution. Yet, nobody can find the table in the State Capitol. A common theme of the oligarchy in Salem. This dark-of-the-night sham was fast-tracked as the media point out but did have time to grab sports gambling revenues to make it competitive. The majority of the so-called savings is an accounting paper trick gimmick theoretically "refinancing" i.e extending the so-called payment schedule by 8-10 years. Purely a paperwork drill that punted the issue. Likely, punting the issue into the courtroom. This will be another costly court case for the taxpayer that could have been avoided.
The headlines for my initiative say it best: "In Pre-Emptive Strike Against Cap and Trade Legislation, GOP Senator Proposes Ballot Initiative That Would Cut Gas Tax Brian Boquist wants to offset energy cost increases embedded in Democrats priority environmental bill". Also note, this headline: "Oregon Legislative Economist Says Cap and Trade Bill Will Gut The Gas Tax That Pays for Transportation Projects".
Oregon must responsibly reduce emissions since 40% come from vehicles. However, as written now, HB 2020 is a simple money swindle that reduces no emissions while raising money for special interests and greedy politicians. The 12-year effort by the Democrats is designed to punish the poor, impoverish working families, and destroy rural Oregon with sky rocketing gas prices of upwards from 62-cents to $2.58 per gallon according to their own Bear Report on the last page. In fact, 65% of the new proposed revenue would come from gasoline and diesel charges but none of it would go to reducing emissions. None whatsoever. All about socialist post-modernist Democrats punishing the poor to change behavior. It is the 1920s and 1930s all over again but in America now.
My proposal at cents on the dollar to create an urban electric vehicle charging network ranging South from Portland to Salem to Eugene to Medford then East to Bend with a loop back through The Dallas is of no interest to the majority socialist post-modernist Democrat legislators with few exceptions. It would be the first in the nation again at cents on the dollar. My proposal to ten-fold the electric vehicle incentives for the purchase of hybrid, electric and even hydrogen vehicles to actually reduce emissions is of no interest to the majority. Then another Senator added hybrid or elective vehicle requirements phased in for metro areas reaching out to 2050 to ensure actual emissions reductions. This plan could have been finalized in a matter of a couple weeks as the data exists. Again, the majority Democrats are not interested at all.
Given the Oregon State Senate rules create a pure oligarchy under Senate President Peter Courtney, the public will have to push back in order to stop, or pass, any of the remaining legislation. Email your opinion to Sen.PeterCourtney@oregonlegislature.gov or leave him a message now at 503-986-1600.
You help is requested.
Senator Brian J. Boquist
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