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Ted Cruz has nothing to offer

Imagine a politician so desperate to stay relevant that he runs out and takes the most contrary position possible to any rational argument. We don’t have to imagine, though, since we have Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, now a GOP presidential contender.

Cruz, who asked the American people during his announcement speech to imagine his notion of an ideal future, is in big trouble amid stagnant approval ratings. A February poll in Texas showed that even Texas Republicans are split between him and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for their party’s presidential nomination.

A year and a half ago, Cruz seemed like an unstoppable, albeit polarizing, force among conservatives, successfully bullying his colleagues into a government shutdown and stirring debate over whether his being Canadian-born was a bar to the presidency. All the while, his smirk seemed to promise an end to conservative woes.

Today, Cruz is in a very different place. Now, everything he does seems a little funny, out of step or downright odd.


Bills aim to fix program

One way Oregon’s counties help attract new business is by offering companies property tax relief for a period of years. It’s a good deal for businesses, and, despite the loss of potential property tax revenue, it’s good for counties, as well.

Forgoing taxes does take a toll, however. New and bigger businesses and new jobs often mean increased demand for local services and more students in local schools. The state works to soften the blow by sending some income tax dollars back to the counties as what’s called gain share.

The system is far from perfect, however, and now competing bills in the state Senate seek to fix the worst of its problems. While both are better than the status quo, the one sponsored by Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, and Reps. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, and Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, is the better of the two.


Integrate mental health care


Talk to mental health professionals and it’s clear many would like to see Oregon’s delivery of mental health care changed. 

Two bills now before the Oregon Legislature, Senate Bill 831 and Senate Bill 832, would do that and in the process would improve mental health care for Oregon Health Plan clients.

They should be approved.


End records law exemption


Let’s hear it for state Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn. She believes Oregon lawmakers should live by at least some of the rules that apply to members of the Bend City Council and other public bodies in Oregon.

Parrish is working on legislation that would end the Legislature’s in-session public records law exemption. We can only say, more power to her.

It’s not the only thing lawmakers are exempt from while they’re meeting in Salem — the state constitution gives them broad freedom to do the state’s business without the sorts of restrictions applied to the governor’s office and most other state and municipal agencies.


Guest Editorial


The fight over the Confederate battle flag and whether it can be included on a Texas specialty license plate has made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case Monday.


Why the federal budget matters


Voters often wonder if Congress can ever get spending under control. Well, both the House and Senate have introduced their latest budget blueprints, so we’ll soon know if they plan to keep kicking the can down the road — or get serious about reform.

Why care about the budget? Because it’s the only legislative document through which Congress addresses the entirety of the federal budget: all spending and taxes.

With more than $18.1 trillion in national debt and an annual deficit projected to grow from more than a half a trillion dollars last year to over a trillion dollars by the end of the decade, the budget presents a critical opportunity for Congress to address the key drivers of spending and debt.

Congress should put the budget on a path to balance to reduce debt and enable economic growth to raise living standards — for all Americans.


More voters, but will they vote?


Voting is such a fundamental right that questioning anything which encourages people to exercise that right is to tread on treacherous rhetorical ground.

But we’ll risk it.

Last week Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law a system designed to register an estimated 300,000 Oregonians as voters.


Pass bill to help sage grouse

The potential effects on Baker County’s economy if the federal government lists the sage grouse as a threatened or endangered species can hardly be underestimated.

Most directly, most of beef cattle that produce about $53 million annual sales for local ranchers also spend part of the year grazing on public land that that feds might deem critical habitat for sage grouse.


The city’s expensive mistake

It looks increasingly likely that a decade-old mistake by a former Baker City attorney will cost the city thousands of dollars.

If nothing else, the lawsuit that current City Councilor Richard Langrell and his wife, Lynne, filed against the city last year illustrates how vital it is that officials go over contracts with the proverbial fine-toothed comb.


5J deal overly complicated

We’ve known since last October that the Baker School District would need to hire a superintendent to replace Walt Wegener, who is retiring June 30.

What we didn’t expect is that the school board would end up paying three people, one of whom is Wegener, for the final 3 months of his tenure.

This seems an unnecessary jumbling of jobs, and an extra expense to the district, which is at the same time lobbying the Oregon Legislature, and with good reason, to allocate more money for public schools.


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