Tuesday, December 9, 2003
DALLAS -- State Rep. Lane Shetterly has a plan for Oregonians who want a "kicker" tax refund next year:
Vote to keep the Legislature's tax increase.
Although he delivered that message as a joke, Shetterly knows what's at stake if voters reject the tax measure, on the ballot Feb. 3, 2004.
Speaking to the Dallas Kiwanis Club Dec. 3, Shetterly described deep cuts to state services should Measure 30 fail. Measure 30 targets an income tax surcharge lawmakers approved to fill an $800-million shortfall last session.
Shetterly supported the tax increase, one of the few Republican representatives joining with Democrats to get it passed. He has taken heat from his party's right wing for that vote.
Measure 30's passage would cause many Oregonians to get a kicker, Shetterly said. Its failure would mean none get money back from the State.
"Vote for a kicker; support the tax," he said, pitching Measure 30 from the right.
At the end of a record-length 227-day session, Shetterly said he saw two options: increasing taxes or borrowing money. Oregon residents would pay back that money -- plus interest -- over the next decade or two.
"All of us have had our fill, frankly, with borrowing," he said.
Education, human services and corrections make up more than 90 percent of the state's budget. As a result, Shetterly said, rejecting the tax increase will affect schools, health care and policing.
School districts will lose around $400 million dollars if Measure 30 fails, he said. The Oregon Health Plan will also cut off 65,000 to 80,000 people not covered by the federal government.
That move would waste money over time, Shetterly said. "The money goes away but those people don't go away.
"People will use hospital emergency rooms for their main care."
Although the tax measure has received the most attention, Shetterly singled out other accomplishments from the 2003 session. Changes to the state's Public Employees Retirement System will save taxpayers $7 billion to $9 billion, he said.
"The system is stable and should be financially sound for generations to come," Shetterly said. However, a court challenge could still overturn PERS changes.
The Legislature also passed a $1.9 billion bill for road and bridge improvements, set up a hotel tax to help promote tourism, and changed rules to cut red tape for developers.
Shetterly's biggest disappointment came with the failure, twice, of his effort to get more trees harvested from state forest lands. Though the bill died in the Senate, Shetterly continues to work with the state Department of Forestry and the governor's office to increase harvests.
Shetterly has hinted that the 2003 session, his fourth, could be his last, though he gave no indication Dec. 3.