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Move it or lose it

If this Legislature can't solve budget crisis, then send all of them packing

Oregon legislative leaders have suggested sending home most members of the House and Senate while budget committee members craft a plan to dig the state out of its black hole.

That might not be a bad idea, but we think there should be a second step: If, after a brief hiatus, the full Legislature is unable to come up with a real solution for this state's budgetary nightmare, they should all go home for good, never to return to Salem.

Get rid of them all, the good ones, the bad ones, the mediocre ones. Because they all are responsible for the mess and the inability to reach a consensus.

This week began with a proposal floated separately by Senate Democratic Leader Kate Brown and Rep. Randy Miller, a Republican who is co-chairman of the Joint Ways and Means Committee. They suggested the Legislature take a mid-session break while a half-dozen or so legislators come up with a budget proposal.

That makes sense to us. It would eliminate some of the posturing that goes on, leave the budget development in the hands of the legislators who best understand it and speed up the process considerably.

— It would also protect us from those politicians who figure that as long as they're in Salem, they might as well create a few new laws. Little being proposed at this late point in the session is of any value; some of it is downright dangerous.

But, regardless, whether they stay or go, our legislators should understand that the public's patience has worn thin. Another impasse or a series of Band-Aid fixes would be intolerable and would be a call to action for citizens who care about their state and their communities.

The litany of failure is evident almost daily: Music programs lost in schools, elementary schools closed, &

36;6 million cut from the Medford School District budget, sports programs cut or eliminated, teachers laid off, cops laid off, social service workers laid off, medical coverage for poor people dropped ... the list goes on and on in depressing fashion.

There is a growing sentiment locally and across the state that wholesale changes are needed in the Legislature. If there is no reasonable budget solution, they should go, Republican and Democrat alike.

Voters are prone to criticizing the Legislature, but supporting their own legislators. If there's no solution, that must end, for our representatives are as much a part of the problem as anyone.

You might agree with the politics of an Alan Bates or a Rob Patridge, but if no solution is reached, they must go. You might like Dennis Richardson's conservatism or Lenn Hannon's moderate voice, but they are not serving you nor this state if they allow the crisis to fester.

Too many politicians keep their finger in the wind, gauging the mood of powerful special interests. Imagine the wind power generated by the entire electorate, telling our representatives that they must either fix this mess or come home to stay.