Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Misplaced Ire

Multnomah County politicians and pundits have their knickers all in a twist at the evil House Republicans for killing the bill on the last day of the session that would have extended Portland School District's local option tax.

The tax raises about $15 million per year and is scheduled to expire soon. House Republicans defeated the bill in some last-minute shenanigans after it appeared it had passed. With $15 million snatched out of their grasping fingers, the Democrats are really steamed.

Let me suggest that the object of their anger shouldn't be House Republicans. After all: every other school district in Oregon has to ask its voters if they want a local option levy. That's how PPS got the tax in the first place - it was passed by PPS voters.

So if they want to extend the tax, they can simply put it on the ballot and make their case. Obviously, they don't think the voters would approve it.

Does that cause any introspection on the part of PPS administrators or Portland area politicians? None that I have witnessed. Last Sunday Randy Leonard was slamming Republicans on his radio show for killig the tax extension. Rep. Mitch Greenlick has a letter to the editor in today's O basically doing the same.

Maybe they should direct their ire at PPS voters. After all, apparently it is they who aren't willing to pay the tax; otherwise the district would certainly put it on the ballot. I'm hearing from those in the know that PPS polling shows voters are not about to extend the local option, the ITAX, or renew the expiring bond - leaving the district with a budget hole in the neighborhood of $80 million over the next year.

So they tried to get the House Republicans to agree to shove a $15 million tax that the voters obviously don't want right down their throat, then acted outraged when they wisely refused.

What a farce. Maybe they should be asking why they have apparently lost the public's trust so completely that they aren't even willing to renew existing taxes, much less vote new taxes in.


gus miller said...


I am in complete agreement with your analysis.

I do fault Minnis and Scott for being willing to "deal" on the proposal. Scott was willing to move the property tax extension in exchange for some business tax reduction.

End runs around local voters are sometimes perpetrated by the legislature on local voters. When Randy Leonard was in the legislature he regularly cut deals to have the legislature require Portland's police and fire disability program add diseases to the "work related" list as his constituents came down with them. In the recent Oregonian article on Randy and the pension and disability program he stated it is "much easier" to have the legislature add to the list of covered diseases than ask the Portland voters to add to the "covered" list.

Anonymous said...

Let's remember that when Minnis first had the tax extension attached to her education bill, not a single House Democrat was pledged to vote for it. NOT ONE. She had to get all her votes from her caucus, didn't have enough for a majority, and was forced to withdraw the bill and REMOVE the tax.

Now the DEMS want to complain that it didn't pass?!? It's because they think you're stupid that they feign outrage and fully expect to get away with it.

Rob Kremer said...

Good point, anon.

Anything to paint the Republicans as stingy. It's OK, though, because the public is no longer buying it.

If the public thought the Repubs were wrong to kill the tax, then they would be happy to vote it in themselves, which the D's obviously don't think will happen.