Republicans offer treats, deliver tricks


With Halloween quickly approaching, it’s a perfect time for us to admit that the Oregon House Republicans have become devilishly-good at masking their failed leadership in the Oregon House. During the Republicans sixteen-year reign, the Oregon House has resembled a haunted house rather than a democratic institution of governance.

Why have Oregonians stood for this? How have House Republicans repeatedly convinced voters to give them another chance? The answer is easy.

House Republicans have paid millions of dollars to political spin-meisters to develop their version of “Trick or Treat”—slick one-liners that offer “treats” to voters in the form of campaign promises that “trick” them into casting votes for House Republican candidates.

In fact, in the 2005 legislative session, there were no “treats” for the voters of Oregon. The House Republicans broke every single one of their promises.

Let’s pull the disguise off of the top four campaign promises made by every House Republican candidate in 2004:

House Republican Treat #1 - "Fund education first."

The Trick – Sounds simple, right? Promise that education will be given first priority over other spending, by simply approving the education budget before all the rest. Pretty straight forward, right?

The House Republican leadership couldn't even deliver on the simple promise of funding education first. By the time the House Republicans got around to pushing through their inadequate schools budget, more than 140 other budgets had already been approved!

Even worse, House Republicans proposed a schools budget that under funded Oregon schools by more than $250 million. Further, they proposed a funding scheme that would have chopped more than $2.6 billion from school budgets had it been law during the past decade. Not surprisingly given their corporate special interest backing, their plan would also have eliminated corporate responsibility for funding Oregon schools.

House Republican Treat #2 - "Create a rainy day fund and establish a spending limit."

The Trick - The House Republicans did neither. They actually defeated, on a party line vote, a Democratic proposal for a responsible rainy day fund. The only spending limit the Republicans passed actually cut and capped spending on our schools! The House Democrats proposed a spending limit that would have actually gone after the biggest area of waste in state government - tax giveaways and loopholes. This proposal would have limited growth of the approximately $12 billion monster that the state spends every biennium on wasteful tax give-a-ways. This proposal was rejected on a party line vote by the House Republicans.

House Republican Treat #3 - "No new taxes."

The Trick - The House Republican policies of pushing through massive tax give-a-ways for the wealthy and large corporations, in fact, have created hundreds of new taxes for middle and working class Oregonians in the form of fees. In 2005, the Oregon House passed more than two dozen new fees, which, by in large, are paid for by regular Oregonians who need the vital services government provides. Parents with kids in school are forced to pay new taxes in the form of fees for sports, band, theater and even books. This is just one example of the new taxes being created by the House Republicans. In the meantime, the House Republicans proposed a new $500 million tax give-a-way for the wealthiest Oregonians -- that's a sum bigger than the budget for the entire community college system.

House Republican Treat #4 - "Make sure tax dollars are spent in the classroom."

The Trick - This may be the most disingenuous of all House Republican promises. The House Republicans teamed up with the lobbyists for school bureaucrats to kill two major Democratic proposals that would have guaranteed that our precious tax dollars are spent educating our kids and not on red tape. The House Republicans killed the creation of a statewide teacher health insurance pool that would have put up to $100 million more into the classroom. They also voted down, on a party line vote, a House Democrats proposal to eliminate golden parachute buy outs for school administrators. These golden parachutes can cost tax payers millions of dollars just to bring in more competent school principals and superintendents.

October 27, 2005 by Jon Isaacs, Executive Director
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