Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Aftermath

Today is not a happy day in Oregon. I am pleased that we have passed Measures 66 & 67 because I feared for public education. But passing these measures does nothing to fix the fact that we have, by most meaningful metrics, one of the worst public education systems in the country.

The state must now, finally, undertake the hard work of designing a stable and sufficient revenue base to bolster education funding and to avoid more costly disruptions in support levels. Another reason I am pleased at the passage of Measures 66 & 67 is I think that it is actually more likely, with the passage of these measures, that this will now happen. Why? Because no one is happy that it had to come to this and conservatives now must realize that Oregonians value the public services that the government provides so we can't just cut spending to fix all our revenue problems.

I think there is a very broad consensus that a permanent rainy day fund is essential and this should be the top priority of lawmakers in February. A sales tax does very little to solve the volatility issue but it could help prevent us from being an outlier on the income tax front, but we can't replace one with the other. In the future then, we have to look at property, sales and income taxes together and forge a sensible government funding model. But this is secondary, a rainy-day fund is the order of the day now. Let's get it done.

[I am pleased that the editorial board of The Oregonian has essentially the same message this morning]


Ralph said...

Oregon passed a "Rainy Day" fund into law almost 3 years ago. It of course was robbed by the legislators and never funded in any useful manner. Check out Oregon House bills 2077 and 2031.

Chuck said...

My wife works in the Corvallis School District. The waste and inefficency are remarkable. Management is inept. Institutional mission is confused and off target. Accountability is lacking. All in all, given the disfunction, they do a pretty good job at education. The problem isn't economic but social and cultural. There very well may be an economic solution but it would be less efficient than a solution based on power.

Dann Cutter said...

My father was a lobbyist for more years than I can count, and I grew up in Oregon politics (swore I would never go anywhere near them as an adult, and now am an elected official)... and I can say with certainty, a sales tax in Oregon is a political third rail. I will gladly support anyone who proposes a sensible one, but it has destroyed many a promising political career in this state.