By DAVID COURTLAND
Pilot Staff Writer
State and county officials are painting a grim picture of what will happen if voters defeat Measure 28, the temporary income tax boost on the Jan. 28 special election ballot.
"I think it would have had a chance as a one-year increase rather than three years," said State Representative Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, who anticipates the measure will fail.
"What it brings in isn't going to be enough anyway," said Krieger. "We'll still have to return to the negotiating table."
The measure, which has Governor-elect Ted Kulongoski's support, would raise the state's income tax brackets for 2002, 2003 and 2004.
The top bracket for personal income taxpayers would climb from 9 to 9.5 percent, and the corporate tax rate from 6.6 percent to 6.93 percent.
That's a formula for making a bad situation worse, according to Krieger.
"As soon as you raise taxes, you loose any gains you make from budget cuts," thus prolonging the economic downturn, said Krieger.
The coming legislative session will probably be one of the most difficult ever for legislators, said Krieger.
"You're going to see some things going away that Oregonians want, some that they need," said Krieger. "Anything that was new in the last biennium."
The legislature will probably make sure programs mandated by the state constitution are funded first, then look at what other programs can be cut, said Krieger.
There are several task forces working on school funding, and Kulongoski has indicated that he "doesn't think public safety is the place to go," said Krieger.
"We'll be looking at the value of programs," said Krieger, "whether taxpayers are getting anything back, whether the programs are doing what they're supposed to do."
Curry County Commissioner Lucy LaBonte said county programs that receive state funding will probably take the biggest hits: Human Services, Corrections, Children and Families Commission and Mental Health.
"It will probably effect every department, indirectly if not directly," said LaBonte.
Fore example, law enforcement will be affected if services to the mentally ill are reduced, she said.
"Some of these people will end up in jail instead of programs that can help them," LaBonte explained.
Curry County communities, especially Gold Beach, will face the impact of job layoffs as county employees get pink slips.
"As the county closes programs," said LaBonte, "we'll be putting more people on the unemployment rolls."
Krieger said the key to pulling the state out of its economic crisis is to emphasize job creation that is, change the laws to stimulate small business development.
"In order for Oregon to become competitive, you want to tweak the laws to allow businesses a fighting chance in Oregon," Krieger said.
"We have the second highest capital gains tax in the country, and the second highest income tax," said Krieger. "You've got to fix those things."