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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow LIBERTARIAN ARGUES AGAINST MEASURE 28



By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

They are statements which at first glance appear to defy logic. Statements, however, for which Libertarians feel a case can be made.

Defeat Measure 28 and money for Oregon's schools, law enforcement agencies and programs for the elderly and other vulnerable citizens will not be cut. Defeat Measure 28 and the state's economy will take a critical step toward recovery.

This is the unwavering opinion of Richard Burke, executive director of the Libertarian Party of Oregon. He was in La Grande Tuesday campaigning against Measure 28, which temporarily raises state income taxes. The measure will be decided by Oregon voters Tuesday.

Burke is convinced that Oregon's schools, law enforcement agencies and programs for the elderly will not lose funding should Measure 28 fail. He believes that the Legislature will make cuts in other agencies and transfer the savings to where they are needed.

He is convinced that legislators will not sit idly and allow funding for things like public schools to be cut due to Measure 28.

"It is like looking at a truck coming toward you. You will move out of the way,'' Burke said.

He believes that making the adjustments could be relatively painless. He explained that 3,200 positions in state agencies are vacant. Most will be filled if Measure 28 passes because money is budgeted for them.

Not filling the 3,200 positions would give the state much of the money it would need to keep Oregon's schools, law enforcement agencies and other programs from being hurt by the defeat of Measure 28.

Burke emphasized that there are no guarantees that Oregon's schools, law enforcement agencies and programs for the elderly will benefit from the passage of Measure 28. The ballot measure does not stipulate where any of the money raised from the tax increase is to be spent.

"There is no guarantee that a single dime will go to anything,'' Burke said. "It does not say that any of the money is tagged for schools, the poor or the elderly.''

Burke fears that schools and others will lose out in competition with other state agencies for Measure 28 funds.

The Libertarian Party is the only organization waging a statewide campaign against Measure 28. It is known as the "Turn The Tide Campaign.'' It is so named because Libertarians believe that defeating Measure 28 would force the state to become more responsible with tax dollars.

"State spending is out of control,'' Burke said.

He noted that over the past three bienniums state spending has increased an average of 12.5 percent while income has jumped an average of 8.5 percent.

"This is not sustainable,'' said Burke, who lives in Beaverton.

He pointed out that if Measure 28 passes, spending for the 2001-03 biennium will have risen 8 percent from the 1999-2001 biennium. If it fails, spending for the 2001-03 biennium will still be 5 percent above what it was 1999-2001.

Burke said that funding for schools, public safety and the elderly should not be cut since all fat already has been trimmed from their budgets. The same cannot be said about other agencies like the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Burke said that $80 million could be saved if the OLCC began allowing stores to purchase liquor directly from the their suppliers. Presently stores must purchase liquor through the OLCC which stores liquor in a warehouse.

The Libertarian Party also opposes Measure 28 since it believes that a tax increase will make the state less appealing to businesses. He said that the state is not attractive to business now because of land-use laws, natural resource issues, high taxes and zoning problems. Some firms are leaving Oregon as a result. "There is corporate flight in the state. Why on earth would we want to raise taxes?,'' Burke said.

Those who have argued that taxes are bad for business include President John F. Kennedy.

"He said if you want to increase economic activity, lower taxes,'' said the Libertarian Party member, who ran for governor in 1998.

Passage of Measure 28 would mean that someone making $40,000 a year would pay an additional $114 in income tax each of the next three years. Burke said this would pay for two weeks worth of groceries

for a family of four on a tight budget.

"Passing this tax is like taking food out of the mouths of kids,'' Burke said.


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