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Leaders should get out of the way of success


Oregon has a spending problem.  Not a revenue problem.

At no time in recent memory has this point been made more clear than on last Tuesday, when the state’s economist told surprised politicians that the 2009-2011 state of Oregon budget had a $562 million dollar hole in it.

To be more clear, that means that Oregon is going to take in $562 million less than originally thought.

Again, to be clear, the legislature and the governor has already budgeted (and in some cases already spent) the $562 million that they found out Tuesday they are not going to get.

And to make matters worse, the budget for the 2011-2013 cycle – again according to the state economist – is already $2.7 billion in the hole!

Something has to give, either the state has to stop spending beyond its means, or we should all start endorsing our paychecks over to the state of Oregon.

There is actually a reasonable, common sense solution to this problem.  It is not the quickest solution, but it is the correct path for the state of Oregon to take in order to restore fiscal responsibility.

It can be summed up in three words: private sector jobs.

The logic is equally simple: the more private sector jobs we have, the more taxpayers there are.  The more taxpayers, the more tax revenue.  Also, the more people who are working, the less people who are on public assistance, which means less need for more government spending.  It really is not rocket science.

The problem is the Oregon legislature and the current governor (and the current governor’s predecessor who wants to make the current governor his predecessor) have been openly hostile to private enterprise.  Instead of passing (or repealing) laws in order to get out of the way of economic growth, current leaders in Salem focus on how best to regulate and strangle investment, free enterprise, and prosperity.

Oregon should be leading the way out of the recession, but instead – again, according to the state economist – Oregon is actually lagging well behind the rest of the country in terms of economic recovery.

I know our revenues are down, but the state’s next leaders need to do everything in their power to encourage investment and economic development in Oregon, and yes that means cutting Oregon’s outrageously high capital gains tax rates, among other things.

For instance, the expense and delay in getting a building permit makes it cost prohibitive to site a factory in Oregon.  The legislature should change Oregon’s laws in order to make it easier for businesses to locate in Oregon by removing these impediments.

These are just two solutions that will open Oregon for business.  Oregon is a state located on the Pacific Rim, with two deep water ports, and a plethora of natural resources which should make Oregon the envy of the rest of the nation.

Instead, Oregon lags behind the rest of the nation because Oregon’s current leaders are unwilling to help Oregon realize her true potential.

Ross Day lives in Keizer.  He is executive director and general counsel for Common Sense Oregon.