GIVE FEDERAL RETIREES MONEY OWED THEM

May 15, 2001 11:00 pm

The Oregon Legislature and its apparent unwillingness to pay the states bills should embarrass us all. The bill in question is one for $111 million that our representatives are refusing to pay. We owe federal retirees in Oregon over-charges that they paid on state income taxes. Who says we owe them the money? The Oregon Supreme Court ruled in favor of them in 1998 and since then the bill has become grossly overdue.

You could compare this bill to a person who spends and spends and spends and then finds out that he has been spending someone elses money. The court has returned the verdict and now the state of Oregon, including the leadership in the House, Rep. Mark Simmons, and in the Senate, Sen. Gene Derfler, is trying to string the payoff out.

Those caught in the middle are the federal retirees. Both they and their spouses deserve to get this money now. These people were charged more than they should have and its time to give them back what is owed them.

At stake is the kicker money that seems to become the political football that everyone in Salem is ready to punt, pass or fumble to the next group of would-be legislators. Also at stake is the reputation of every Oregonian who believes in fair play and paying off your debts. (Maybe the new generation of legislators doesnt feel that way.)

The tough part about all this is that the bill is due and payable now, when Oregon is experiencing a downturn in available tax dollars. With the economy slowing somewhat, it means that there are fewer dollars being projected to pay for our high-flying state government. But thats OK.

There are just too many good-hearted Oregonians who worked their careers for the federal government who paid their Oregon taxes faithfully and they deserve what is rightfully theirs.

The kicker refund may be important to many in Oregon, but paying off the states bills is even more important. We need some ethically minded political leadership in Salem, both in the House and Senate. How about it, Simmons and Derfler? If they cannot figure this out, the 2001 session could mark the last one that Republicans control both houses.

MUSIC TO OUR EARS

No doubt about it. Some mighty fine music is being produced at La Grande High School. The LHS band added another honor for the school by winning the state 3A band championship in Corvallis this past week.

The bands award came on the heels of the LHS A Capella Choir winning the 3A state championship on May 4.

The public will have a chance to hear both groups at 7:30 tonight in the LHS auditorium during May Music Week. The community should turn out in force to applaud these winning groups who have proven theres power in good music.