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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Well, isn't that special?

Several members of the Oregon Legislature began physical therapy this week after dislocating their shoulders patting themselves on the back after last week's special session. This organization did next to nothing in the regular session, which dragged on through more than half of 2005, but suddenly reconvened to pass a few nuggets in a few hours in the off-season.

The pollsters must have told them that they were in danger of losing their jobs in the approaching primary election, and so they needed to do something quick. There's talk of making the Legislature a year-'round affair, but from last week's performance, a much cheaper solution to the Salem gridlock is apparent: Just schedule the regular sessions in election years, when the lawmakers have to answer to the voters immediately. I suspect you'd see much more accomplished.

Comments (5)

A pretty good special session. Fixing the DHS budget hole was a good job.

So, too, was the "Jessica's Law" thing, though Kate Brown's
grandstanding in the Senate was a bit much after her sadly successful
efforts in the regular session to keep that bill from a senate floor vote.

I'm mostly ambivalent about the Payday Lenders bill. Good, I guess, but
truly not a major issue for most Oregonans, despite a loud campaign by the
supporters of the bill. A lousy "industry", almost as venal as the cable
tv operators. But a major issue worthy of inclusion in a special session --
I don't think so.

The two schools funding bills. I expect that here many of you and I part ways.

As I read the 2003 and 2005 budgets, K-12 school support INCREASED 8 %
from the 2003 to 2005 biennium. Yet the inflation rate was no where near

So why the K-12 increase of 8% over the period? If "stable school funding"
is the preferred mantra, why a constantly increasing K -1 2 expenditure in
a time of very very low inflation that is maybe 2%?

Yet a K-12 budget which increased in the regular session by four times the
inflation rate is sweetened yet agan in the
special session ? It can't all be school bus fuel and building heating /
electricity costs.

I suspect far too much is PERS and medical insurance costs for staff.

The state has got to rein in medical insurance costs for school staffs. A
state wide system, with bulk purchasing power, has got to be instituted.
Put all school employees into the state employee plan, with premiums from
the school employees and the the local districts, for medical insurance. No
local options unless they are cheaper than the state employee medical
insurance plans.

And then there is PERS. PERS is eating the schools alive. PERS costs have
got to come down.

Finally, lastly, the PPS tax increase authority is an abomonation. What
are you folks thinking? Allowing PPS to reimpose a property tax without a
local vote by the affected taxpayers serves only to further erode the
polity's confidence in the governmental process. PPS knew that it could
not pass a new property tax measure in a local vote. This legislative
end run will come back to haunt both PPS and all other governmental bodies,
including the legislature.

Why give the lars larsons of this state yet more ammunition?

overall inflation may be 2-3% but, obviously, that does not mean that the costs of running the school system are only increasing at that rate. health care costs, PERS, wages, fuel, are all increasing at higher rates.

your idea of having special sessions before elections just might be the best idea on the legislature ever.

When an increase in spending at the local level is discussed, there rarely seems to be any mention of the decrease of money coming from the feds.

Unfortunately, I am not a numbers gal, so I can't plead my case as well as I should be able to. Anyone out there able to post some numbers?

When Jim McL cites an 8% increase in state funding, what is the increase overall?

Karin, Dept. of Education spending has increased WAY above the rate of inflation during the Bush administration. In G.W.'s first term, Domestic spending (non-defense, non-entitlement) grew by 8.1% after adjusting for inflation. (CATO Institute analysis) The federal dollars going to education have far outpaced inflation, you just don't see them in general fund budgets. They get hidden in the other funds that are included in the all funds budget.

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