Senator Jeff Kruse - July 3rd, 2013


Senator Jeff Kruse
R-Roseburg, District 1

Phone: 503-986-1701    900 Court St. NE, S-211 Salem Oregon 97301
Email:     Website:

 Working Hard For You



July 3, 2013




Yesterday was an interesting day in the Senate, but I want to focus on only one bill.  The bill in question is HB 2456, which was the tax increase bill.  The first thing that should be pointed out is the fact this measure was drafted without any input from the Senate Republicans.  One of the provisions we have been insisting on was a tax break for small business.  This bill actually has a tax increase on small business while holding big business harmless.  I considered this to be one of the worst bills I have seen, as it even messed with the senior medical deduction.  But at this point in time the provisions in the bill have become secondary as the whole issue has become purely political.


Tax measures take a two thirds vote in both chambers and it was known before this measure was brought forward that it would not pass.  The Senate Presidents office, the Speakers office and the Senate Majority Leader’s office all had press releases pre-written basically attacking Republicans for blocking additional funding for schools and other things.  I think it is time for a reality check.


It is a fact the state has over two billion dollars more to spend this biennium than the one that just ended, and some project it could go significantly higher.  It should also be pointed out the all funds budget, which includes all revenue sources is over sixty billion dollars for the biennium.  Clearly a significant portion of this is directed funding, but a lot of it is discretionary in a variety of ways.  So my question is why do we need to take an additional two hundred million from taxpayers to balance the budget?  Two hundred million is .003% of the all funds budget.  For example, to stay even community colleges needed an additional fifty million dollars, this would be .0008% of the all funds budget.


Last week we passed the K-12 budget.  Senator Monroe, who is the Senate co-chair of the education subcommittee of Ways and Means, said on the Senate floor this was the best school funding budget he had seen in thirty years.  I am not sure how one can reconcile such a statement with the press releases put out yesterday.  I would suggest we have had a total mismanagement of the budget process designed specifically to try and force a tax increase.


The main reason we are still in Salem is the desire of leadership, including the Governor, for tax increases.  Virtually all Republicans have been approached and offered “something” for a yes vote on taxes.  To our credit, we have taken a stand on principle, which can sometimes be a rarity in this building.  If the budget committee would simply prioritize our essential services and make sure they were covered first we would not need to talk about new taxes.  We have offered several options to get more money into programs including education and mental health and they have been rejected. 


Some might think I am being overly critical, but I don’t think so.  All Session long, on the policy committees I severed on we did our work in a very collaborative way and, for the most part, I supported the legislation we passed.  Unfortunately the Ways and Means process is not being conducted in a similar fashion.  This is the most closed budget process I have seen in my nearly two decades in the building.  I wish it were different.


As of this morning there is still no clear indication as to when this Session will end.  The only thing for certain is we will not be working on the 4th.  I guess even legislators deserve to opportunity to honor our country.  I know I will.




Senator Jeff Kruse







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