Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Today's Baker City Herald has an interesting interview with State Rep Tom Butler (R-Ontario).

Butler's majority part job was to chair the House Revenue Committee. This session with his party in the minority, Butler will be the Committee's co vice-chair with Tobias Read (D-Beaverton). Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene) will be chair.

The interview isn't so much about what it says--but about what it doesn't say. Butler seems intent on grinding the "no new taxes" saw, even going so far as to assuage potential constituent hand wringers that nobody in Salem (D's, R's or I's) is intent on generating new taxes:

Butler said he's not too concerned that the House will take a sharp left turn under Democratic control.

"Of the new Democratic members, probably five of them ran to the right of the Republican candidates," Butler said. "They want no more taxes and more accountability, and so do we."

According to Butler, the governor's proposed budget isn't balanced, because it relies in part on existing tax sources that are scheduled to sunset.

"Extending some of those programs will require new legislation," he said, "but you can't anticipate balancing your budget with taxes we haven't passed yet."

Any new tax proposal must start in the House, and the place they start generally is Bulter's Revenue Committee. A new tax requires 60 percent support among House members, or 36 of the 60 representatives. That's every single Democrat and at least five Republicans, Butler pointed out.

I don't know a single House Democrat that won't articulate a belief and a need for proper accountability and oversight of government spending. Probably moreso than many Republicans, based on the lack of responsibility they take as a group for the budgeting woes in Salem since they've been in charge.

Judging from this interview, Butler is either politically inept without a read on his constituency or so ideologically blinded by the Oregon GOP purity project that he's allowed himself to be thrust completely out of step. Or maybe its some of both.

There is broad support among Oregonians for eliminating the corporate kicker.

Eliminating the corporate kicker is a new tax. I spoke with several House politicos this afternoon who echoed support among many in the legislature--so much so that it certainly has tremendous odds at passage.

I don't know what Butler's real stance is on eliminating the kicker. A reader certainly can't tell from this interview--and its certainly possible that its just a lousy write-up that doesn't reflect what Butler truly said. If that's the case then he should get up off his ample posterior and make it clear.

But right now it looks like Butler is looking for cover on this issue. Given the popularity of eliminating the corporate kicker--that just seems ludicrous.

Update: House Speaker Elect Jeff Merkley will be on Representative Butler's radio show tomorrow..which I THINK is on station KSRV out of Ontario.

The station's website blows..so I have no idea what their lineup is for sure.