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Home arrow Opinion arrow No 'new' taxes

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No 'new' taxes

No new taxes.

The Oregon Legislature and Gov. Kulongoski have yet to borrow this ill-fated mantra from former President George H.W. Bush. They know better.

However, Kulongoski and legislative leaders have all but said they aren't considering new taxes.

But that does leave the old taxes to fool around with.

With revenue tight, players at the Capitol in Salem are looking for ways to eke some extra revenue out of the state's funding sources.

But these aren't new taxes, per se.

Consider:

o Repealing a tax break isn't a new tax, just one less thing you can avoid paying taxes on.

o The 10-cents-per-pack cigarette tax was a casualty of an ill-amended tax package sent to — and defeated by — voters. Lawmakers who say they don't hear much opposition to re-establishing the tax are missing the point, however: Less than one in four Oregonians smoke, so presumably 75 percent of people will either support the tax or not care. The lack of opposition is more about the census than an actual show of support.

o Then there's the lottery. One-armed bandits may be coming to taverns and restaurants soon, part of the governor's plan to fund the State Police. This isn't a new tax either, just an expansion of Oregon's tax on people who can't do math (or who like video gaming).

Sorry, saying one thing and pursuing another isn't likely to rebuild the public's confidence in our lawmakers and governor as managers of the public bureaucracy.

Instead, Salem should find a way to inject accountability into state employment so managers can get the most bang for our bucks.

The Legislature might even consider resorting to a RIF — a reduction in force — to cut the size of the labor force, a move private enterprise resorts to when revenues and expenses aren't following the same course.

Or the crew in Salem can pick on smokers and gamblers and people who itemize their tax deductions.

That ought to earn the trust of the people of Oregon real quick.

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