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Kulongoski vetoes only government accountability measure of 2007 session

But adds 1,777 new jobs to state bureaucracy

8/9/07 Oregon State Republican Office

Salem, OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) used his veto pen Thursday to kill the only bill passed by the legislature this session that focuses on government accountability and efficiency. The bill, Senate Bill 1039, was broadly supported by members of both parties and passed both legislative bodies with one dissenting vote.

“Taxpayers expect the legislature to be rooting out waste and making sure agencies are being run efficiently,” said Senator Frank Morse (R-Albany), one of the chief architects and sponsors of the bill. “It is unfortunate that the Governor has chosen to veto a collaborative process that would include the executive branch, members of the legislature, and members of the private sector who have experience in creating high performing organizations. The bill says that we want to see increased performance wherever a tax dollar goes, not just today, but for decades to come. Oregonians want a government that is accountable and constantly working to be more efficient. The status quo is not good enough.”

The bill would have created a standing committee to examine state agencies’ use of taxpayer dollars, create initiatives for more efficient agency performance and serve as an avenue for the public to keep government accountable. The Governor said in his veto letter that the executive branch is already responsible for review and analysis of agency effectiveness and performance. To involve the legislative branch would “blur the lines” between branches of government.

“The Governor doesn’t want help making government more accountable?” asked Morse. “This is about changing performance, not just measuring it like other governors have done in the past. This bill seeks to bring permanent, government-wide accountability to the state no matter who sits behind the governor’s desk.”

The veto of SB 1039 leaves government accountability up to bureaucrats and agency directors rather than a permanent committee that includes members accountable to the people. The Governor’s veto comes ironically on the same day that the Statesman Journal reported government will add 1,777 new positions.

“Oregonians haven’t seen this rapid of an increase in government in over a decade, yet the Governor is using his veto authority to prevent an accountability measure designed to watch over our dollars,” said Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “I think Oregonians would be disappointed to know our Governor doesn’t think greater accountability is important.”

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