19 Jun 2009, 10:24am
by admin

Kruse Reports on the Oregon Legislature

by Senator Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, District 1 [here]


Today is Friday, June 19, 2009 and the 75th Legislative Assembly should be drawing to a close. As it turns out we will probably be here at least one more week because not all of the “children” have learned to play together in the sand box. Last week was, in my opinion, one of the worst weeks in the history of the legislature. Not only did we raise taxes by over one billion dollars, we also created significantly more government which was to a large degree the reason for the tax increase. However, that was last week and I have faith in the judgment of the people to reject at least the tax increase portion of the package. Currently the debate is between the Governor and the Democrat leadership over how much of the Rainy Day Reserve Fund to spend. Over the last six years we have created two reserve funds and they each have different requirements.


The School Stability Fund is rather simple and straight forward in the way it can be accessed and the funds used. There are certain triggers necessary for using any of the money, for example two fiscal quarters in a row with a significant decline in revenue. All of the trigger events have happened and we will be accessing this fund, which also has rules about how much of the money can be used at any one time. The reason this is simple is because the School Stability Fund is Constitutional. What this means is the Legislature cannot do anything beyond what is in the law without a vote of the people. We will be using the amount of this fund allowed by law, and this is an appropriate action.


On the surface The Rainy Day Fund was set up the same way as the School Stability Fund with basically the same set of economic triggers. The major difference is this fund is not in the Constitution, just in law. This is a very significant difference simply because the Legislature has the ability to ignore any rules it has set up simply by using the term “Not Withstanding”. So in this case by adding the words notwithstanding and condition or limitation in ORS 293.144 the legislature can use any or all of the Rainy Day Fund for any purpose at any time. The Democrats are proposing to use the majority of this fund now to balance this budget, which I think is a violation of the principles we agreed to in the creation of the fund. As a matter of full disclosure our back to basics budget did propose using some of this fund, but only the amount prescribed in law.


After being absent for the majority of this session the Governor has now chosen to participate. He has told the Democrat leadership he will veto the K-12 budget if too much of the Rainy Day Fund is spent. The Governor even went to the extraordinary length of meeting with Republican leadership, for the first time all session, to see if we would help him prevent a veto override. We used this as an opportunity to explain to him what our budget proposal was, to which he had no comment. We have also had conversations with leadership over what our position is on this debate. After being told for months we were unnecessary, we are choosing to not commit to either side on this issue for now.


By law the Governor has 5 days to sign or veto a bill once it reaches his desk while the Legislature is in session. Once the Legislature has adjourned he has 30 days to make a decision. So the goal of leadership at this point is to force the issue before we adjourn. To this end the Ways and Means Committee will be meeting this morning to pass out the K-12 budget and it will be on the Senate floor for a vote this afternoon. This budget will then be voted on in the House on Monday and should be put on the Governor’s desk by Monday afternoon. This would require him to either sign or veto the bill by next Saturday, which would mean the Legislative Assembly could potentially vote to override the veto (if it happens) on the same day.

This is not an official time line and nothing is in writing, just my opinion as to how I think events will transpire. I should also note I will be voting against the K-12 budget simply because it is significantly less than the budget we proposed. Furthermore, there are a lot of bills being held hostage for passage of other bills. In virtually every case the bills have nothing to do with each other, they are just trade bait. I personally do not play this game as I vote all bills on merit and will never vote for something I don’t like to get something I might want. These are the sort of tactics that give politics a bad name.


Senator Jeff Kruse



web site

leave a comment

  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta