Without federal help, Oregon faces a budget crisis next year of truly whopping proportions. However, we don't believe there's any realistic chance of another massive federal handout, and we'd like to see lawmakers actually come to grips with the problems the state faces.
The problems are huge. State economists predict that unless something changes dramatically, lawmakers will head back to Salem next January some $2.5 billion in the hole. Worse, the deficits don't go away anytime soon - in fact, over the coming three biennia, they average about $2 billion each.
Rep. Peter Buckley, the Ashland Democrat who is co-chair of the Legislature's Joint Ways and Means Committee, would like to see the federal government lend a hand with a second major bailout.
Uncle Sam directed well over a billion dollars to Oregon's coffers during this biennium to keep the state in the black. Question is, why should it do so again? Why should Californians, whose budget problems make ours look positively paltry by comparison, willingly watch their federal income taxes go to cover the expenses of their profligate neighbor to the north? Why should the residents of North Dakota or Wyoming, both of which are not currently running deficits, be willing?
We can't think of a good reason. Oregonians got into this mess all by ourselves simply by spending more than we take in each year. We elected lawmakers who are willing to bankrupt our future simply to keep us comfortable today. They've done so by increasing fees on everything they can, and raising taxes on everyone they can persuade themselves is rich. That only works for so long, however, before the "rich" either flee the state or we decide everyone who makes $25,000 a year is actually rich.
It won't work again, we don't believe, nor should it.
Instead, lawmakers are going to have to make tough decisions, ones that are painful not only to businesses, but to schools, teachers and parents and everybody else. The quicker they begin thinking about that andndash; and the quicker they begin the difficult task of persuading the state's residents that cuts really are necessary, painful or not andndash; the better off we'll all be.
- Wescom News Service (Bend Bulletin/Curry Coastal Pilot)