Jeff Kruse

MAY 26, 2017




There is always an attempt to end the long session of the Legislature in June, but we can constitutionally continue through July 10th.   Based on this time frame one could assume we should be farther along in many areas than we currently are.  Part of the problem from the Republican perspective is the fact there seems to be no interest in finding any real efficiencies in government.  We asked early on for the ability to reduce the cost of government by one billion dollars, which out of a 76-billion-dollar budget seems reasonable.  We are getting no real movement in that direction, in fact the Speaker is determined to get an additional two billion dollars in taxes.  Oregon has been basically a one-party state for over 30 years and it still appears the agenda is the continued expansion of government. 


What we are finding is many state agencies, who are supposed to be serving the people, have become instruments of a political agenda.  I am basing this on a Forbes article, which did a data base search of government salaries and expenditures at all levels of government.  One of the interesting things revealed was the fact taxpayers are spending $278 million dollars for the Democrat-controlled administration to spend on politically well-connected firms and vendor’s big-ticket PR contracts.  One example (of many) is the Oregon Tourism Commission “Travel Oregon,” which is funded by a lodging tax.  The agency has 43 staffers at an operational cost of $5 million per year, which works out to over $116,000 per employee.  Despite that, they are still contracting with a private sector PR firm at over $22 million.  What is even more interesting is the fact they refused to disclose relevant information as to how the money was spent.  One can find similar PR efforts in other agencies including the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Environmental Quality.  Using state agencies and taxpayer dollars to push a political agenda is a violation of everything we are supposed to be doing.


But that is not the worst example of the way our political process is being violated.  The Legislature is divided into two types of committees, policy committees and budget committees.  It is generally acknowledged that policy issues should be dealt with by the policy committees in both Chambers and the Ways and Means Committees should not be making policy.  That principle is being violated in a major way this Session, as over 200 House policy bills have been sent to Ways and Means rather than come to the Senate policy committees.  It is hard to know what the “game plan” of the majority party is at this point relative to these bills, but one might assume we could see some significant policy happening in committees not designed to deal with such issues.


Policy committees in both Chambers will be finished a week from today.  The reality of what happens in Ways and Means is the fact the Speaker, the President and the two co-chairs of the committee totally control the agenda.  It would be pure speculation to try and guess what will be coming.  We do know there will be a hard push for tax increases, which is very frustrating.  We have offered a plan to fully-fund Medicaid and education without tax increases, but it is not the direction we seem to be going.


We have been on an expansion of government pathway for the last decade and it is simply unsustainable.  I keep saying it is time we put the people ahead of government, but we keep pushing a government first agenda.  Of course, they will say “it is for the people,” but that is simply not true.  The continued expansion of the public employee unions serves only one purpose, and it can only happen at the expense of the private sector.  It is time for a real reality check in Oregon, and I hope it happens before it is too late.




Senator Jeff Kruse

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