Vetoes earn OK from Rep. Bates
Ashland Rep. Alan Bates supports the governor's veto of the Legislature's funding plan for schools. Most other area legislators say they will vote to override the veto when the Legislature meets next week in its fourth special session of the year. Click the photo to see a larger (24k) version; use your Back button to return to the story. / Bob Pennell
After the vetoes, teachers 'start all over' — — —
Other local lawmakers are angry that the governor turned down their budget package
Although he's a former school board member, state Rep. Alan Bates supports the governor's veto of two key budget-balancing bills that would force deep cuts in schools.
This gives us an opportunity to go back and do a better job, said Bates, an Ashland Democrat.
Bates said he's aware that many school officials are upset with his views and fear what may happen if the budget cuts come to pass. But Bates said it's time to look at the long term.
I was elected to go up to Salem to do good policy, not necessarily good politics, he said.
Other local state legislators are angry that Gov. John Kitzhaber vetoed key portions of their third budget package. State Sen. Lenn Hannon, R-Ashland, called the governor's move disingenuous and said Kitzhaber is trying to ride out of office wearing a big white hat, but leaving a mess behind for everyone else.
The crisis is a crisis being fabricated by the governor 2&
189; weeks before school begins, Hannon said. This has the net effect of reducing K through 12 and community colleges by over &
36;300 million. It's totally reckless and irresponsible.
Hannon, the Senate's budget chief, has worked hard in the past year to forge compromises between the Democratic governor and the Republican majority in the Senate.
I have carried the governor's water for three special sessions and as far as I'm concerned there won't be a fourth, he said. My back hurts. ... The relationship between the Legislature and the governor at this point is becoming seriously strained.
On Wednesday, Kitzhaber vetoed bills that would provide &
36;317 million for schools and community colleges. One bill would shift a state schools payment into the next biennium. The other would provide &
36;50 million to schools through bonds based on cigarette tax revenue.
After vetoing the bills, Kitzhaber called a special legislative session Aug. 16 so lawmakers could vote on whether to override his vetoes. An override requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the Legislature. Kitzhaber said if legislators don't overturn the vetoes, he will bring them back to Salem for a fifth special session in early September to vote on his plan to send an income tax increase to voters to help pay for schools.
Bates said Kitzhaber's plan for a temporary income tax increase is sound. It would hit only people of higher income and would provide better funding for schools while legislators find a permanent funding solution. Bates also said instead of borrowing and shifting money ' solutions that will cost the state more in the long run ' Oregonians should consider having the state keep kicker income tax refunds next year.
Sen. Jason Atkinson, a Jacksonville Republican, said he doesn't believe there's support for tax increases, even temporary ones. He pointed out that the governor has vetoed three legislative budgets ' and said the governor didn't even work with the Legislature on the last one.
If he didn't like it and he didn't participate, then he has to make the cuts on his own, Atkinson said. Counting votes in Senate right now, there aren't the votes to raise income tax. When you have high unemployment you don't raise income tax.
State Rep. Rob Patridge, a Medford Republican, complained about the governor's lack of participation in the last special session in June.
Patridge said he, like many others, thought legislators did the best they could without cutting schools too much or raising taxes substantially.
I think it's wonderful (Kitzhaber) took the moral high ground, but his lack of engagement doesn't allow him to scream like a mashed cat, Patridge said.
Patridge, Atkinson and Hannon said they expect to vote to override the vetoes. State Rep. Cherryl Walker, R-Murphy, could not be reached for comment. Bates said he will vote to uphold one veto and will probably vote to uphold the other.
Politically, the easy thing to do is to override both the vetoes, Bates said. The hard thing to do is call a halt to this kind of budgeting.