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Jun-04-2011 13:26printcomments

FUBAR: A Guide to Governor John Kitzhaber's Proposed Oregon Budget

Manufacturing declines 30%; construction falls 20% in a decade; yet local and state government grew 10%?

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.
Photo Courtesy: New West Politics

(SALT LAKE CITY) - “Think of our state government as a house that was built many years ago, and Oregonians as the family that has been living in it for generations. Its design may have made sense when it was built, but the family -- its needs and the way it lives -- are different now. The rooms are the wrong size and there are too many of them. There is no insulation and the windows are drafty, so it costs more than our family can afford to keep it up. The foundation is cracked and the roof needs a complete replacement. There comes a point when patching things up just won’t work anymore: we need to rebuild a house that is affordable and is built for the way we live.” – John Kitzhaber

This all sounds nice. I am not sure that I agree that we the people are dependent on the State Government for our livelihood. I sometimes think it is the other way around. But why trifle over fundamental principals. The Governor, who I grudgingly supported, has plagued me with his “Budget Message,” 380 pages in length.

I will respond to this novella, which I am sure cost the taxpayers at least a few hundred thousand dollars to produce, with a far more efficient retort.

Let me start by saying that the Governor could make my life much easier if he gave me a one (or more) page summary of all the corporate welfare tax breaks, contracts with private for profit corporations, and ridiculous salary arrangements that he has incorporated into his budget.

It might take a few more pages, but a regression analysis of the relationship between lobbying and campaign contributions and State government contracts would be nice. Of course, I guess I can't expect him to do his job for me.

I am only a citizen who pays him to represent me in government.

Why should I expect him to earn his salary by engaging in the same depth of analysis that I perform as a matter of necessity, without any pay at all, and on top of my productive employment.

Governor Kitzhaber, could you just tell me whether or not the DOC still has the highest paid employees in the State of Oregon and whether or not convicts are still the only citizens with constitutionally guaranteed health care?

Have you managed to catch up with that ex-DOC boss who is in exile in Iran after fleeing from an indictment? What about the Chief of Police of King City who was hired on a stolen identity and disappeared after being found out a few years later?

Speaking of the DOC. How is the investigation of corruption going there? Or is the guy in Iran just one rotten apple in a barrel of angels? Let us get to the main point of the “cracked foundation” of the house of State, upon which the Governor depends, and his subjects prop up with their labors.

On page A-2 the Governor presents a chart that summarizes the demise of the State Government. In the last decade manufacturing has declined by 30%. Construction has declined by 20%.

Local government has grown by slightly less than 10%. State government has grown by more than 10%.

“Leisure and hospitality” has grown by close to 15%.

Education and health care services have grown by over 30%. FUBAR There is nothing wrong with education, but you can't be educating the young on how to live a life of poverty, which is the current scheme.

There is nothing wrong with health care, but if your “health care” is dumping hundreds of millions of dollars on private for profit “insurance” corporations (read: scams) then you are just killing yourself. There is a principal in philosophy called “universality.”

It asks that you pretend that anything offered in a narrow context be considered on a universal scale. Pretend that every decade productive industry declines by 30% and this decline is matched by an increase of the proportion of the population engaged in some form of servitude.

If the State of Oregon continues for more decades on its current path, where will that leave it? What is the goal of the Oregon State Government? To reduce all of its citizens to the status of servants and slaves? Excepting politicians, doctors, and lawyers.

The Governor proposes that we increase spending on “human services” from 11 billion in 2007-2009 to 18 billion in 2011-2013. How is it that the budget for “human services” can grow by 50% in 4 years while every other segment of the economy is shrinking?

The problem here is not taking care of people in need. The problem is lying politicians and the hundreds of millions of dollars being funneled into the pockets of private for-profit corporations who are providing these “human services.”

Meanwhile, the budget for the Oregon Military Department is down from 425 million to 418 million. I guess we are going to keep paying sub par wages to the citizens serving in our armed forces. Veterans are getting the shaft too (of course).

Kitzhaber is proposing a reduction in State funds for veterans even while Federal Veterans benefits are decreasing by about 20%. I guarantee you that no one in the Oregon National Guard is earning three hundred thousand dollars like the doctors who take care of inmates in the Department of Corrections. What about our State's corporate welfare departments? They are booming as usual.

Page E-3 of Kitzhaber's proposed budget shows an increase in corporate welfare (“Oregon Business Development Department”) from 390 million to 489 million.


Only a 25% in corporate welfare you ask. Couldn't we have cut the salaries for our citizens serving in the armed services by even more? Those greedy ingrates in Afghanistan and Iraq need to learn their place! What about the unemployed?

If we are doing the military like this, then what must we be doing to the unemployed in order to keep Wall Street happy? See page E-6 where Kitzhaber proposes cutting the budget of the Employment department in half, from 5 billion to 2.5 billion.

The 5 billion figure is high, because there have been a lot of people unemployed and collecting the “unemployment insurance.” Which they payed taxes for and are contractually guaranteed.

Are all of those people now employed again? What about housing for low income families? Kitzhaber proposes cutting the budget for that from 2 billion to 1 billion. The homeless don't vote.

Chop 'em off at the knees. That is apparently Kitzhaber's motto.

The military should feel lucky that he is proposing to give them some Vaseline with their budget cuts.

What about government itself? Are they cutting their budget in half like they expect from the military, the unemployed and people getting kicked out of their houses? What do you think? On Page J-1 Kitzhaber proposes an increase of about 15% in the budget for the legislature.

But that is mild compared to the 25% increase in the budget for the courts and lawyers.

I guess they need another $200 million to process all the foreclosures and bankruptcies. On to the subject of State debt: This year Oregon will pay $225 million in interest.

They have issued billions in bonds on which the interest income is tax free for “investors” (thieves and con artists by a normal person's definition). According to page M-11 the “interest rate” on State bonds fluctuated between 3.5 and 4.5%.

I am so glad that our State, which is the second largest land owner in Oregon, after the Federal Government, is only paying 3-5% interest to bankrupt Wall Street banks for “loans.” That makes perfect sense.

How is it that a sovereign State pays interest to bankrupt private money lenders? Bang your head against a rock for a while to figure that one out. I have banged my head against a rock, and I still cannot degrade myself to the comatose state that is apparently endemic in Oregon's legislative and executive offices.

The “Governor's Budget Message” is a shameful document totally detached from reality.

How can you waste so much time and energy on publishing such a mountain of drivel that no one will read? Just give me, and all of the other voting land owning citizens, a simple report on campaign contributions, lobbying, legislative votes, and contract awards (i.e. corruption, insider dealing).

Give us a report on “borrowing” from private individuals and the payment of tax free “interest” to private individuals (i.e. fraud). Give us a report that breaks down how much tax money the State Government takes from Oregon citizens, and compare that to the taxes being paid by foreign banks and corporations. Give us a report on your plan to stop exempting foreign banks from State Income Tax on their Interest Income. I will not hold my breath.

If only for the sake of my health.

________________________________ Business/Economy Reporter Ersun Warncke is a native Oregonian. He has a degree in Economics from Portland State University and studied Law at University of Oregon. At a young age, his career spans a wide variety of fields, from fast food, to union labor, to computer programming. He has published works concerning economics, business, government, and media on blogs for several years. He currently works as an independent software designer specializing in web based applications, open source software, and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.

Ersun describes his writing as being "in the language of the boardroom from the perspective of the shop floor." He adds that "he has no education in journalism other than reading Hunter S. Thompson." But along with life comes the real experience that indeed creates quality writers. Right now, every detail that can help the general public get ahead in life financially, is of paramount importance.

You can write to Ersun at:

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