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Monday, March 12, 2007

We were wrong

Kick away a bad deal
Republican state senators must hold together to avert a disaster

Don't blow this now. That's our plea to the Oregon lawmakers threatening to pass a poorly-crafted plan to create a bogus rainy day fund and seed it with nearly $300 million in corporate tax withholdings. In retrospect, Measure 48 - The Rainy Day Amendment, which we opposed last year, was a far better deal for Oregonians.

Taxpayers will gladly accept last week's collapse of the broader deal that would have both created an unlimited spending fund and hiked the state's corporate minimum and estate taxes. We strongly supported the deal, but it was a reach in many respects. We were wrong.

But if the narrower agreement on the spending fund and kicker that overwhelmingly passed the House on Thursday gets hung up in the Senate this week, Oregon voters ought to take names and celebrate those lawmakers who saved the day.

There are innumerable good excuses for responsible lawmakers to oppose a bogus rainy day fund. The state desperately needs to break its runaway spending habit, and a savings account that is just another spending account would be just another waste of money and lost opportunity.

Senate Republicans know that. Nearly all of them are veteran lawmakers who are far wiser than their House GOP counterparts. Several, including Frank Morse, R-Albany, have been among the strongest and most vocal supporters of fiscal responsibility and forcing the state to live with Oregonians' means.

Thank goodness all the Senate Republicans walked out of the Capitol on Thursday to protest their exclusion from the negotiations that led to the original deal. It was an insult for other legislative leaders to leave them out of the talks.

But the question now is whether the minority party in the Senate, which holds 11 of 30 seats, is prepared to hang together to stop the insanity. Oregon needs a full and functional Senate to best represent all Oregonians.

Lawmaking is a job for responsible politicians. House leaders, including Speaker Jeff Merkley, D-Portland, Majority Leader Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, and Minority Leader Wayne Scott, R-Canby, reached a wrong-minded agreement that would screw over all Oregonians.

Now it's time for Republican senators - all of them - to step up and help restore a far better alternative - good, old-fashioned legislative gridlock.

The Oregonian, OPINION By THE EDITORS, Mar. 11

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