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As families gather together across Oregon to celebrate the holidays, Oregon Citizens For A Sound Economy's (CSE's) 12,000 members wish to share our thanks with you and wish you a joyful holiday season. Additionally, we wish to share a message of hope and encouragement, and offer recommendations as you grapple with the difficulties of balancing the state's 2002 budget.
Unfortunately, Oregon families face an economic recession and many face a real threat of potential job losses; at the same time, consumers are seeing their discretionary income dwindle as their monthly expenses rise. With this new reality in mind, the Oregon legislature cannot raise taxes while Oregon families and businesses suffer. Instead, the legislature must take the lead by controlling spending, cutting and/or freezing new big-government programs, and privatizing some existing government services. The legislature should also reduce barriers to economic growth by removing costly regulations that provide little or no benefit to the public. Finally, the legislature should return more tax dollars to Oregonians to help stimulate economic growth.
Oregon CSE has outlined recommendations that address the state's budget deficit. These recommendations will help to reduce the size and scope of the state government, and help to close the state's budget deficit. Oregon CSE suggests the state consider the following:
Eliminate spending on new programs, such as Governor Kitzhaber's controversial and intrusive children's initiative, which would save the Oregon taxpayers $59 million dollars.
Freeze newly created spending programs, saving Oregon taxpayers more than $200 million dollars.
Cut government spending 2 percent across the board, saving Oregon taxpayers up to $240 million dollars.
Require that the state Public Employee Retirement Services board implement the required mortality tables in order to save tax dollars.
Privatize some existing government services and agencies. For example, the state should reduce the number of Oregon Department of Transportation employees and contract needed engineering services to private firms. Additional options for the state to consider are contracting prisons and Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles services to private firms.
As important as fiscal restraint is for eliminating Oregon's budget deficit, removing barriers to economic growth and returning tax dollars back to Oregonians are vital if Oregon is to emerge from this recession with a strong and vibrant economy.
Unfortunately for Oregonians, Oregon is ranked last out of all states in job creation; meanwhile, Oregon's all-funds budget grew by nearly 16 percent over the last biennium. The burden of paying for the state's growth, its frivolous spending, and its intrusive regulatory agencies is borne by Oregon taxpayers. These are the same taxpayers living in communities hit hard by the current recession and a decade of job loss due to government regulation. Under these conditions, it is perplexing that members of the Oregon legislature and the governor are considering raising taxes. Economic growth occurs when government removes barriers to investments so that individuals and businesses can plan for future economic growth and expansion. Oregon CSE suggests that the legislature pass a state stimulus package, which includes the following:
An across-the-board tax cut, which protects the savings consumers receive from the federal tax cut from additional state taxes.
Death tax reform allowing Oregon taxpayers to take full advantage of the federal death tax reductions without an increase in state death taxes.
A reduction in individual and corporate capital gains taxes of 2 percent.
Counties and local governments should be encouraged to reduce property taxes to families and businesses.
Lowering the regulatory burden on businesses, consumers, and property owners. Unnecessary regulations add costs to our economy and are harmful to the state's economic growth. Additionally, they have led to the decline of our natural resource industry, negatively affecting the economic health of communities throughout Oregon.
Reforming land use laws to ease the requirements for rezoning and allow for proper development of private lands.
Economic impact statements on all new regulations before implemented to ensure that the benefits of a regulation exceed its costs. The state should also demonstrate that it has chosen the least costly method of achieving its regulatory objectives.
Implementing an administrative rules repeal method that allows the public to remove regulations that restrict economic growth.
Today, Oregon faces difficult challenges. The legislature and the governor cannot address the state's current economic condition by continuing to expand government spending. The legislature needs to provide Oregon families and businesses with a regulatory and tax environment that promotes economic growth. Oregon CSE represents 12,000 of your constituents statewide who believe in lower taxes, less government regulation, and more economic freedom. We urge you maintain fiscal restraint and develop a market-based approach to the challenges we face.
R. Russell Walker
Citizens for a Sound Economy
Dr. Wayne Brough
Citizens for a Sound Economy