Majority party wins, but state pays the price
The 2019 long session has been over for more than a month. In my eight years as your Senator, I have never seen such a contentious and divisive time as this was. Elections have consequences and we saw that first hand.
Last month The Oregonian touted the Supermajority Democratic legislative body as "Winners."
Let's take a closer look at that.
Within the first few weeks, the new Chair of a new committee moved this behemoth piece of legislation to the floor, for passage along party lines. The bill exempted many landlords, but those that were covered by the legislation were restricted to a mere 9.9% rent increase limitation per year. So as a renter, how will you handle a 9.9% increase in your rent every year?
"Temporary tax" farce
In 2017, the legislative body increased taxes on hospitals to pay for Medicaid patients. They also added a new 1.5% tax for employers. The tax was put on the ballot in a special January mail-in vote. In the voters' pamphlet, the Majority Party clearly stated that this would be a temporary tax, expiring in 2019.
This "temporary tax" was extended to 2026. It was also increased from 1.5% to 2% raising over $350 million for their new programs. They also threw in smaller hospitals that never had to pay this tax before.
Unions take all
The Supreme Court of the United States decided that if you did not want to belong to a union, you did not have to pay the fees. It was the Janus vs AFSCME decision. They passed this bill, along party lines, which took the onus off the unions and made the state the collector of the dues. That money would then be sent monthly to the unions. They also included a right for a union member to do union work on state time, while still being paid by the state.
HB 3427, otherwise known as the Gross Receipts tax. It is really a sales tax on all businesses earning over $1 million. Not on profits, but on gross sales.
This tax will raise over $1 billion per year. It will cost a family of four about 4% of their household income. Most businesses will pass the cost on and the tax is additive on products so that a single product could be taxed many times.
A PERS bill was passed, but it did nothing but kick the can down the road. You probably have already heard that the unions are suing to stop this legislation.
Most fees we pay have increased. We "need the money" is the common response, even though we have had a robust increase in revenue, about $737 million according to state economist, Mark McMullen.
• Gov. Kate Brown wanted to take the kicker. They did move $108 million into other programs.
• We passed a law to severely cripple the death penalty law, which Oregonians passed overwhelmingly. It has been in the news. The author stated it was just what she wanted.
• The voters turned down drivers' cards for undocumented immigrants by a large margin. The Majority Party passed the bill along party lines and even put an emergency clause on it so we, the voters, would have no say in the issue.
There are many more issues that were passed without thinking about how it would affect Oregonians.
We, the Republicans, did walk out of session preventing a quorum so that some very egregious bills would not pass — mandatory vaccinations, gun laws that would have made the common citizen a criminal, and most importantly cap-and-trade. This bill would have cost you an additional 22 cents per gallon at the gas pump in the first year alone, and raised $550 million in the first year from productive companies that provide good jobs. It also would have raised your heating and cooling costs significantly.
This tax on top of the new gross reciepts tax will severely hurt our job creating companies.
So, I guess the big question is, do you think you won in this legislative session, or did the Majority Party win?
Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby, represents Oregon's Senate District 20, which includes the communities of Estacada, Eagle Creek and Barton.
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