March 22, 2002 11:00 pm

Ted Kulongoski, one of three Democratic candidates for governor of Oregon, already is talking about the need to raise taxes. Kulongoski said that legislators should consider a temporary income tax surcharge, according to a recent article in The Oregonian.

We cant support a temporary income tax surcharge, but we do believe that it might be appropriate to increase the taxes on cigarettes, beer and wine if a revenue increase is necessary.

Kulongoski has become the first candidate running for office to step forward and discuss his feelings about balancing the states budget. He has even taken issue with Gov. John Kitzhaber, saying the governor hasnt handled the situation correctly. Kulongoski said that when the economy worsened last fall, he would have assembled a panel of bipartisan leaders including the free-market Cascade Policy Institute. I thought that the public needed to hear a message that in this budget crisis, the first were going to find out (is) if government can be smarter and more efficient, he said.

It appears that Kulongoski is thinking about the overall needs of state government instead of creating barriers between political groups. He also said that he supports the temporary income tax surcharge to increase government funding because Republican Gov. Vic Atiyeh made such a move in 1982, when the state was in a recession.

Kulongoskis decision to speak out about how he would handle the situation may prove to be a critical moment in whom Democrats decide to support as the partys next gubernatorial candidate. He is starting to sound like a governor and less like a primary candidate. And bringing up the fact that a former Republican governor supported a temporary income tax surcharge offers some historical perspective to the current budget deficit mess.

Even though we dont agree with Kulongoskis support of raising taxes, even on a temporary basis, we do admire his willingness to step forward with some potential solutions. We especially like the idea of bringing a bipartisan group together to see how government can run better.

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