Friday, April 14, 2006

In which we call "bullshit" against Ron Saxton's new TV ad

We now know for certain that Ron Saxton is a Republican.

How do we know this? Because he lies to our faces in his new television commercial.

Saxton's new ad starts off with with this opening:

SAXTON: Let's face facts. Oregon has one of the nation's most
inefficient state governments, getting a D for managing your tax dollars.
VISUAL: Oregon gets a "D" (Source: Grading the States 2005)

Grading the States 2005 happens to have a website where we internets savvy folks can check up on Ron's source citation.

Oregon does in fact rate a "D" for the "money" portion of its state grade. But it has nothing to do with "managing your tax dollars" and everything to do with Oregon's abyssmal tax structure:

Underlying the problems that have left the state facing shortfalls year after year—just to continue funding services at current levels—is a dysfunctional tax system. In Oregon, where personal and corporate income taxes make up more than 90 percent of the state’s revenues, the economic downturn at the start of this decade hit the treasury with unusual force. “We’re the number-one state in terms of dependence on a single source,” says Budget Director Daron Hill. “When the economy turns down, we get hit very severely.”

Other income-tax-reliant states have been able to soften the blow of these shortfalls with some kind of rainy-day-fund mechanism. Unfortunately, Oregon has never developed such a strategy to protect its general fund-based services. Even the state’s Education Stability Fund, which was billed as a rainy-day mechanism for K-12 spending, turned out to be a rather grand misnomer. “It was set up and then immediately tapped,” says Chuck Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. “It has to be the most incorrectly named program in the country, because it has never provided any stability for education.”

The site also slams the "kicker" up against a wall:

These issues have been only exacerbated by ballot-box initiatives that make sensible budgeting very difficult. Most notably, the state’s “Kicker Law” dictates that when Oregon experiences higher-than-expected revenue growth, the surplus must be divvied up and sent back to taxpayers—even if pressing governmental needs are being left unmet. Oregon’s citizens can subject any tax increases to a referendum. As a result, in the budgetary session during which the 2003-05 budget was debated, legislators wrestled for a record-setting 227 days to come up with an $800 million tax increase to keep services operating. But voters turned it down, mandating slashing cuts in education, public safety, human services and the already beleaguered Oregon Health Plan.

And there's Oregon's tax structure balance, which Ron's source notes is killing our ability to budget effectively because its so one-sided and unpredictable:

Oregon’s tax structure is terribly imbalanced. A lack of diversification has left the state facing continuous multi-million dollar shortfalls. Further, Oregon’s citizens have the ability to subject any tax increase to a referendum. In addition, the state’s “Kicker Law” forces surpluses to be divvied up and returned to taxpayers when revenue growth is higher than expected.

Saxton lies (right into the camera) and claims that it's all about managing the tax dollars. Not only does Grading the States beat up on our tax structure, it actually gives Oregon a reasonably good write up on how the money is being managed.

Ron Saxton: proving that Karen Minnis isn't the exception.