Jeff Kruse

MAY 12, 2017




As far as the official activities in the Senate this week there is not a whole lot to report on.  For the most part our floor sessions were taken up with House bills that came over to us with nearly unanimous votes and passed in the Senate with similar numbers.  We are starting to see a few of the budget bills, but for the most part these are bills where most the money comes from federal funds or a category called “other funds.”  Historically other funds are something we spend little time on as our focus tends to be on general funds, or tax revenue.  A significant portion of other funds is made up of fees, licenses and other ways government takes money from businesses and citizens.  The legal difference is a matter of definition and how the Legislature has chosen to categorize various components of the funding stream.  Simply put taxes require a super-majority vote while all other things only require a majority vote.


I have asked for a breakdown of all components of other funds so we can truly know the full amount of money Oregonians are paying to run state government.  Over the course of time the Legislature has forced many agencies to be to a large degree “self-funded,” which means they need to derive most of the money they need to operate from those who they have jurisdiction over.  There are over 400 different licenses the state requires for various activities, and for some areas multiple licenses are required.  Each license requires a fee and in some cases those fees are substantial, and they tend to be increased on a regular basis.  My point here is we need to know the full extent of the money the state is taking and not be focused just on taxes.


It is time we shifted our focus from budgeting based on desired spending, to one based on outcomes and sustainability.  In a previous newsletter, I talked about the fact, with the current budget proposal we will have increased the cost of government by 50% in just 10 years.  We also need to look toward the future.  At this rate, six years from now we would need to increase taxes by an additional 8 billion dollars.  We are on a trajectory by which the state will go broke.  It is time we put some serious efforts into cost containment and finding ways to make government more efficient.  Unfortunately, the way we are doing things currently, we are defining a 14% increase in spending as a cut.  IF the majority party’s main objective is to continue to increase the size and scope of government, and it is clear looking at their proposal what their intention is, I am not sure how we can ever get to the levels of accountability the people deserve from the Legislature.


I am expecting tax proposals to start surfacing within the next two weeks, and it will be interesting to see what political spin will be put on them.  We will very soon start running out of time, so things should start getting “real” soon.  I am still hopeful we can do something substantial in government efficiencies, but my hope at this point is not very strong.




Senator Jeff Kruse

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