Monday, August 07, 2006

Ron Saxton and Measure 48

Ron Saxton came out against Measure 48, the state spending limit measure that would establish a rainy day fund in Oregon.

I support this measure, because even if Ron Saxton wins, Oregon won't always have a governor who will be as much as a fiscal hawk as Ron will be. That said, I completely understand why Ron would come out against this measure.

Ron basically said that it is the governor who should be the spending limit, and I agree. Unfortunately, we've now had 24 years of Democrat governors who simply will not exercise any restraint on spending. We've also had enough experience with a Republican legislature to know that they have no penchant to do anything but spend every dime that comes in and support tax increases for yet more spending.

So I like the idea of a hard cap on spending. I simply don't trust the system to do anything but spend it all and then some.

But should Ron Saxton support Measure 48? No. He has his own campaign to run, his own issues to run on. He's been putting this campaign in place for two years, and he cannot allow it to be connected to ANY ballot initiative.

His opposition to M48 does not signal a softening of Ron's position on fiscal restraint. The statement he issued that explained his position was anything but soft on spending. He just knows it is not at all politically smart to allow a very controversial ballot measure to define his candidacy, and I fully support Ron's decision on this question.

Now, to the Oregonian. Their lead editorial today lauded Ron for his position, but it was really dishonest in how it described the measure in question. They repeatedly called it the "TABOR," which is the name of the Colorado spending limit.

Obviously they want to do anything they can to attach M48 to the Colorado spending cap because it fell out of favor and was suspended, but in doing so they are being dishonest about the very substantial differences between M48 and Colorado's TABOR.

First, Colorado's measure applied not just to state spending but to city, county and school budgets as well. Measure 48 is just for state spending. Second, Colorado's measure does not allow a rainy day fund to be created - while M48 would absolutely result in just ahat.

Finally, Colorado's measure prevented tax collections in excess of the spending limit. Measure 48 does not affect tax collections at all - the same amount of money would be collected, but funds in excess of the spending limit (set at the sum of population and inflation) would accumulate in a rainy day fund (unless you want to pretend that the legislature would send it back to the taxpayers - ha!)

Once the fund is established, when revenues are not high enough to fund the popuflation increase, the fund fills in the rest. Further, if and when the legislature wants to use some of the fund for some specific purpose, say, to build a westside bypass, they can pass out a referral to the voters to do so. This puts the people in charge of important spending decisions.

This coming biennium, if M48 passes, the growth in the state all funds budget would be reduced by about $2 billion from the roughly $45 billion it expects to take in in 2007-09. Hardly draconian, especially since this still represents a healthy growth of more than 8%.

I understand why the Oregonian and all the spending lobby hates Measure 48. But it really irritates me when they are so openly dishonest in their portrayal of the measure, to the extent of even giving it a name that the measure's sponsors oppose.

2 comments:

Dave Lister said...

Rob,
I think the support for Measure 48 is a logical taxpayer reaction not so much to over spending but rather to wasteful spending. I think many people would be supportive of current spending level if the state were doing the things it ought to be doing, like building roads for example, rather than pumping countless dollars into their social agenda. I think Ron Saxton is the guy to reallocate state spending and move state government back to its core mission.

Anonymous said...

Obviously they want to do anything they can to attach M48 to the Colorado spending cap because it fell out of favor and was suspended, but in doing so they are being dishonest about the very substantial differences between M48 and Colorado's TABOR.

This is the way OPPONENTS of RDA describe the Colorado experience!

TABOR did not "fall out of favor". It was not "suspended".

RDA propents put it differently. In Colorado, the voters elected to temporarily exceed the spending limit. At the same elections, voters rejected politicians' request to put all the excess spending on a credit card.

RDA and TABOR are similar in this respect: they put voters in control of overspending decisions. The MSM never report this.