Time is now: Budget crisis loom

January 2017 Posted in Community, Other

Is the Ways & Means Legislative Committee responsible for using honest methods for balanced budgeting?

Or is it finding “ways” to avoid our impending tsunami wave of debt by making someone else pay the bill through “mean” political skulduggery? I’ve observed both in the Oregon Legislature but never served on “Ways & Means” until now.

I confess, I was a high-school “math avoider.” This allowed academic credits plus a paycheck as a Sears clerk, thus avoiding classes like algebra.

Even this “math avoider” knows our Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) is billions over-promised and underfunded.
Depending on investments, the deficit to meet our promises ranges from $16.2 billion or as much as $22 billion short.
This is equal to the entire general fund and lottery spending for our next budget cycle!

Not only do we need ways to pay our deficit, taxpayers already pay PERS $9 billion annually just to tread water and keep the deficit from growing.

That’s equal to the spending on Oregon’s public school system.

Worse news: this year’s payments grow an additional $1.2 billion more due to a Supreme Court ruling with unintentional bias, since judges are part of PERS.

We have to design a permanent PERS fix that keeps our promises to workers. It’s not possible to continue PERS at this level for future employees.

Without transparent legislative action for PERS advocates and taxpayers, we’re headed to bankruptcy. The Legislature is the budget branch. It’s time to take constitutional authority seriously, protecting all Oregonians.

We’ve continually failed to negotiate with well-meaning government interests or to face our growing debt.

Government growth should be scrutinized and curtailed. Further, we must prevent endless funding of programs that turn many Oregonians into feeling entitled rather than enabled.

Together, both parties must regain control of sane budgeting.

Stop the blame game. Whether unions or corporations, Democrats or Republicans; endless name-calling should cease. Instead, the Legislature must take a tough look forward to solutions bringing us back in balance with a promising economic future.

Instead of abandoning our constitutional budgeting authority and simply raising burdensome taxes; let’s limit spending through prioritizing services and eliminating fraud, waste or duplication.

Oregon’s Employment Department reports adding 17 new government jobs every day since 2014. An unwise path in our current crisis. Efficient service and budgeting is also achieved by exploring partnerships with reputable private sector businesses and nonprofits.

We can’t “kick the can down the road” another year. We simply don’t have another year.

All legislators must fight against out-of-control spending addictions while protecting public safety, and our most vulnerable through human services.

Proposed new goal: Destroy debt waves before they destroy us.

051414_vgilliam_tlq3ncHouse Representative Vic Gilliam

District 18

Gilliam.rep@state.or.us

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