...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004
      ( 11:39 AM )
Stabbing Ourselves in the Heart

There was another election yesterday besides the primaries that were widely televised. Here in Oregon, there was a special vote on Measure 30, an initiative put forward by anti-tax activists to cancel the minor tax increase the legislature put into law last year. The initiative was led by republicans not in our legislature and by powerful lobby groups out of Washington, including Dick Armey's Citizens for a Sound Economy. The anti-tax folks are laughing and cheering that Measure 30 was defeated statewide last night. The truth is, those folks at CSE won't have to feel the brunt of what these economic times are doing to the states in which they are pushing anti-tax legislation. Who feels it? Us.

But the voters have spoken. Evidently, a majority of Oregonians believes that despite several special sessions of our state legislature and despite the agreement of the majority republican party, there is $800 million in our budget we can still cut. These folks don't seem to care that Oregon is the 11th LOWEST taxed state in the union, we DON'T have a sales tax, we USED to have the most progressive, caring health plan of all the states, and we WERE a huge draw to businesses and people who wanted to live here. But no more.

It saddens me to think that people are actually unwilling to pay for the services they receive from the state. This claim of waste is well and good, but the fact is we are in dire straits. It is obvious that most Oregon voters don't want a health care system for our poor and elderly folks, it's obvious that most Oregon voters don't want to ensure a full school year and teacher salaries for our children, and it's obvious that most Oregon voters don't care that we would have received federal matching funds for those taxes that would have benefitted us all. Did these people think that suddenly the legislature would find an amazing $800 million magically and set everything right once they "learned their lesson?" Get real.

Portland schools are safe for now since Multnomah County voters raised their own taxes last year. However, the other school districts, and especially rural counties, will be hurting. Because our legislature meets only every other year, that doesn't mean anything is going to happen any time soon to fix things. Why is it so hard to contribute to the betterment of our society? If there were only a way for people who refuse to pay taxes to live without the services they receive on a daily basis, maybe then they might be more appreciative of what taxes are for.

I hope that no more people die because of this. But they probably will. The state will probably end up paying more in emergency care for patients who no longer have health coverage. People who do have insurance will see their premiums rise. Parents will have to find care for their children when the school year ends early. It's a sad commentary on our times. I don't really know what else to say since I'm so disappointed.

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