Oregon Editors Say
Don't go there
Make the cuts the voters endorsed; tweaking the budget would be folly
The (McMinnville) News-Register
Gov. Ted Kulongoski and legislative leaders have it right, hard as it is to swallow. The specified cuts endorsed by voters in defeating Measure 28 must be made, except as adjusted by individual agencies with authority to set priorities.
It would be sheer idiocy to open up the decimated 2003 state budget for legislators to embark upon another series of debates. Salem has virtually the same legislative cast that took five special sessions of deplorable, sometimes raucous, wrangling over the issue last year. They couldn't agree then on where more savings could be found to fill the holes they helped carve. Giving them another chance, just four months before the end of the biennium, would be futile and create chaos moving into the 2003-05 budget talks.
We agree that ample reasons exist for modification of the cutbacks. Jail doors are being thrown open, though not in Yamhill County, praise be. Educators are scheduling fewer school days. The most agonizing cuts come from curtailment of medications and basic services to the mentally and physically disabled, with agency managers scrambling to dull the impacts ' while laying off employees. We still believe that Oregonians, including those in Yamhill County, care about others. But many reacted to a deep cynicism toward government and charges of blackmail, thinking those impending cuts would never be made. Now they know.
Others listened to the siren song of plenty of money ' they would strip the Common School Fund, deplete the brand-new reserve fund, exhaust the tobacco settlement and borrow even more. That course would lead to fewer options to meet next year's projected deeper drop in revenue. It was positive to see a near-record voter turnout, and this time the usual pattern of a flood at deadline was reversed.
Since pro-28 momentum materialized late, some early No voters might have voted differently if they had waited. Actually, you can cancel an earlier mail-in ballot and vote again, but few people do that. A negative, along with canceled public services, is the election's shadow over getting voter approval for tax system reform.
Our super-heavy dependence on income taxes is particularly hurtful at times of utmost need. What next? Not organized protests or lawsuits. Instead, communities must fill in the gaps, as appropriate and proper. What's done is done, as the governor observed. Moderate it as much as we can; live with it.