In the last six months our state
unemployment has soared by 50% from 5.4% to more than 8.1%
last month. The rate of growth of Oregon unemployment is twice
the rate for national unemployment that now stands at 6.7%.
Oregon businesses continue to shed jobs at an unprecedented
rate. Conversely, for the past two years the growth of Oregon
families accessing the federal food stamp program has nearly
doubled. Today, one in seven Oregon families uses the food
Recently, I read a striking
statement regarding government practices. The quotation reads:
“The budget should be
balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, the arrogance of
officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the
assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest the
nation become bankrupt. People must again learn to work
instead of living on public assistance.”
That quotation is as relevant
today as it was when it was spoken by the Roman Senator Cicero
more than 2,000 years ago.
The best way to get people off of
public assistance, as well as to refill the Treasury, is to
create private sector jobs that pay family supporting wages.
Gainfully employed people pay taxes that enable government to
provide necessary services, and that help to support the few
that are truly unable to support themselves.
Most private sector jobs are
created by small businesses. Statistics clearly demonstrate
that most of Oregon’s labor force consists of small business
employees. As the primary employer of Oregonians, Oregon small
businesses must be recognized as key contributors to the
recovery of Oregon’s economy. Oregon small businesses must be
provided equal access to all the economic stimulation tools
that are now being provided primarily to big business and to
More than 200 years ago Thomas
Jefferson said that: “The Democracy will cease to exist
when we take away from those who would work and give to those
who would not”. He further stated his prediction that
Americans will have a happy and prosperous future only if they
can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the
people under the pretense of taking care of them.
For more than two thousand years
politicians have clung to power by promising abundance for
all. The fact is today, as it has always been, that abundance
for all is the direct result of entrepreneurship and hard work
that creates products that have value for use and for sale.
The sooner our political elite begin to advance that principle
the sooner we will return to prosperity.
Our legislature must be made to
understand that a stable Oregon economy is dependent upon the
economic health and growth of thousands of small businesses.
Our Governor must be made to understand that any economic
stimulation tools that the State develops will be most
effective when employed by Oregon small business
entrepreneurs. In order for our State economy to recover, our
agencies must focus their education, training, and support
resources on assisting Oregon small businesses to start and to
operate profitable enterprises.
Governor Ted Kulongoski has
unveiled his recommended budget for the 2009-11 spending
cycle. After closely reviewing that recommended budget it
appears that the Governor continues to promote an economic
recovery agenda void of economic reality. He continues to
pursue his vision of an Oregon economy founded on renewable
energy industries while failing to address the current reality
of soaring unemployment, closing businesses, disintegrating
industries, and collapsing credit.
After months of denial, he
finally acknowledges the ongoing meltdown of our state and
national economies. He blames the failed policies of others
for Oregon’s now year long fall into deep recession. What is
most disturbing to me is that he continues to deny his own
culpability in spending Oregon to the edge of economic ruin.
In response to this economic
crisis, Kulongoski’s only budgetary answers are to tax more,
charge more, and borrow more to finance more of the same
policies that are already bankrupting our state, our
businesses and our citizens. That budget contains well more
than one and a half billion dollars in new and expanded taxes,
average 36% increases in fees, charges and licenses, and the
borrowing of about two billion dollars to create public works
projects that he says will create jobs for Oregonians.
He projects that 1,451 of those
jobs will be new, full time jobs for public employees. These
new public employees’ salaries and benefits will be paid
entirely by the additional taxes and fees levied on Oregon
taxpayers. The total increase in public employee compensation
will exceed $800 million when combined with his already
implemented unfunded pay raises for agency directors, middle
level mangers, and rank and file union employees.
It appears that the Governor’s
plan is funded by taxing selected Peter to pay collective
Paul. The Peter being taxed are private employees and small
business while Paul reaping the benefits are the public
employees and large corporations.
He asks that we continue to
mortgage our children’s future in pursuit of his dream of a
green economy that economic and scientific reality dictates is
neither achievable nor necessary. He asks us to support
unsustainable energy policies that will drive energy costs out
of the reach of those in poverty, and that will drive many in
the middle class into poverty. He asks that we have faith and
believe in his policies that will certainly demolish the right
to the use of affordable energy for an entire economic class
of our people. The fact of the matter is that Kulongoski’s
energy policies are a direct assault on the civil rights of
the economically disadvantaged.
A stark example in his proposed
budget is $5 million allocated to purchase 25 Chinese built
electric cars, and to build charging stations to keep those
cars running. Simple arithmetic tells us that he is willing to
spend $200,000 per each electric vehicle in order to advance
his vision for a fossil fuel free future for Oregon.
He seems unaware that borrowing
more money to spend for public works projects is not a viable
option for several reasons. Currently, virtually no market
exists for most municipal and state bonds, regardless of the
interest rates offered. Even if the state could sell the
bonds, the combination of reduced revenue, increased
borrowing, and the utilization of our state financial reserves
will certainly cause our bond rating to plummet resulting in
significant increases in interest and the cost of debt
He has failed to even address the
incredible, and escalating, losses in both public and private
sector retirement accounts. The Public Employee Retirement
System (PERS) is heavily invested in stock market equities
that have sustained losses of about 40% of their value over
the past year. A major portion of these losses will be
replaced by taxpayer dollars because a significant portion of
the PERS retirement accounts are guaranteed benefits indexed
to cost of living for life.
He is asking Oregonians to ignore
what has become his obvious legacy. The stark reality is that
after six years of Ted Kulongoski’s leadership, Oregon is a
national leader in unemployment, poverty and hunger. The stark
reality is that his bloated budget does not even provide for
the basic needs of our most vulnerable citizens. The stark
reality is that Oregon has already borrowed and spent
virtually all of the money that lenders are willing to lend.
We are now being asked to believe
with certainty that his bold new strategy to borrow, tax, and
spend our way out of debt will somehow right our ship of
State. He tells us in his budget message “to have hope, feel
confident, and believe with certainty”.
I for one do not believe!
What I do believe is that we must
reduce the size and the cost of state government. We must make
deep reductions in non-essential services, in order to provide
for the critical needs of our seniors, our veterans, our
disabled, our children in foster care, and our developmentally
disabled citizens. We must sharply reduce taxes and fees, in
order to allow our citizens to better provide for themselves,
and in order to sustain and create new private sector jobs.
We must reduce the crushing regulatory and tort liability
burdens that are destroying our small businesses and that are
causing larger businesses to leave the state.
We must recognize that our
service based society has no real basis in the creation of
personal and national wealth. We must promote the harvest of
our own cornucopia of natural resources. We must harvest our
own energy resources. We must use those resources to make
things, using our hands and our sweat and our technology to
manufacture goods that have value for sale both here and
Those are the roots that created
this greatest nation on earth, and those are the roots that
will drive our recovery.
It is time to just say no to the
political and economic policies that have driven us to the
brink of ruin. It is time to take action before it is too