March 24th, 2017 - ABOUT HALFWAY THERE

Jeff Kruse

MARCH 24, 2017




Once again, we are hearing a lot of rhetoric, but not seeing much substance.  There are a lot of people up here who seem to think their time is better spent commenting on and condemning what is going on in Washington DC rather than dealing with issues here in the state.  While it is true what happens in DC will have a major impact on how we craft our budgets in many areas, it is really much too soon to have any real idea of where Congress is going.  In reality we still should be more focused on the state’s business.  For example, it should be clear to everyone that we can’t continue to grow government at the uncontrollable rate we have been over the last decade.  As I have stated previously, the cost of government in Oregon has grown by 40% over the last eight years and with what the majority party has put on the table at this point it would grow by roughly another 20% over the next two years.  Unfortunately, we have seen no real efforts in finding efficiencies in the current government structure, and you can’t blame that on what is happening in Washington DC.


There is, however, work being done on some new tax proposals, although at this point we have not seen the substance of what might be in the package.  I have heard rumors that it may look somewhat like what was rejected by the voters, from the perspective it could be another version of the gross receipts tax, but I don’t have anything definitive at this point.  However, from my perspective, we must be able to clearly demonstrate to the people the fact we are doing a good job of managing the money we are already taking from them before we ask for more.  The fact is we cannot make that demonstration because there are massive amounts of waste in state government.  We are still waiting for a serious discussing about government streamlining, but I am not holding my breath at this point.  There are just too many people in Salem who think the government can do a better job of spending your money than you do.


One significant “nanny state bill” that passed in the Senate this week was a bill to increase the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.  Clearly smoking is not a good thing and young people should be discouraged from taking up the habit, but this is a matter of principle.  It comes down to the issue of freedom of choice.  Our Constitution is based on individual freedom, which also includes the freedom to make bad choices.  We already have many restrictions based on age from when you can buy alcohol to when you can vote or get a driver’s license.   While there is some logic behind these limits, it could also be said they are somewhat arbitrary in their construct.  For example, we have decided that a woman is mature enough in her decision-making ability at age 15 to have an abortion without parental consent.  We have also decided that a person is mature enough at age 18 to decide to join the military.  There is also legislation proposed that assumes a person is old enough at age 16 to register to vote.  My point here is we should be consistent in our approach to these issues.  To say a person is mature enough at age 15 but not mature enough at age 18 contradicts itself on a fundamental level.  Those who are doing all of this seem to have a set of standards of one issue and a completely different set for another.


I bring this up simply to point out the continuing invasion of freedom and personal responsibility that has been an aggressive agenda for years in the Oregon State Legislature.  It is the main reason for the expansive growth in the size of government.  It takes more and more state employees to be able to oversee the “activities” of citizens that government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided should be the job of government.  I personally think you should each be in charge and responsible for your own life, but inch by inch that seems to be slipping away.




Senator Jeff Kruse 

email: I phone: 503-986-1701
address: 900 Court St NE, S-205, Salem, OR, 97301