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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.


Clean fuel, dirty deal

By the time you read this it’s likely that Gov. Kate Brown will have signed a law that will take money from every Oregonian’s wallet.

What we’ll get in return — a reduction in the state’s carbon emissions — might be tolerable if it were significant enough to have a measurable effect on the potentially harmful climatic changes that atmospheric carbon is contributing to.

But it’s not even close.


Not really a burning problem

The government’s campaign against woodstoves continues.

But the latest missive might have the unusual effect of uniting people in Portland with their counterparts in Baker County and other rural sections of Oregon.


A fitting tribute to Mabry

There is no sufficient way to honor Mabry Anders, the 21-year-old soldier from Baker City who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2012.

But erecting a highway sign where visitors can hear the music of the Powder River, at the place Mabry liked to fish for trout, is a meaningful and worthwhile attempt.

We would expect the legislation designating Milepost 36 on Highway 7, between Baker City and Sumpter, as Mabry Anders Memorial Highway will meet no opposition in the Oregon Legislature.


Use TV signals? Pay please

The Blue Mountain Translator District sells a product that’s easy to steal.

It’s invisible, is the main issue.

And unlike other TV signals, the district’s aren’t carried by coaxial cable, nor do they require a satellite dish and receiver. All you need is a rooftop antenna.


A strategy for streets

It’s a perennial problem with no easy solution.

Baker City’s streets are, well, not crumbling, exactly. Not rapidly, anyway.

But they are deteriorating, and have been for more than a decade.


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