Legislators must tackle tough problems

Mike McLane

Rep. Mike McLane

Oregonians want good jobs, safe communities, great schools, and effective state services.

On Wednesday, the Oregon House moved us toward that end by unanimously supporting a Republican plan to eliminate offshore tax havens and dedicate the savings to mental health programs.

It was offered by Republicans as an alternative to the Democrats’ plan to raise taxes on businesses and eliminate tax deductions for certain individuals.

But there is more to do. It’s time to sit down and have a bipartisan discussion of what is best for balancing Oregon’s budget and fixing the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Remember, we haven’t done this yet. The ruling Democrats did not seek Republican input when they set their budget.

Oregonians have sacrificed greatly already. In addition to teacher layoffs, larger classes, and job losses, Oregonians have paid more in record tax increases passed a few years ago. The state already has $1.7 billion more to spend for this budget. When is enough, enough?

Meanwhile, PERS obligations continue to drain precious resources from school districts, police departments and local governments. It’s time to fix PERS. But that is not what SB 822 — passed without a single Republican vote — did.

SB 822 has been criticized by school boards, education activists and local governments as not fixing PERS. We’ll be back in two years facing the same broken retirement system.

We need the political courage to stand up and solve the problems we were elected to address.

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