Observer editorial board

Two key issues — tax reform and the deficit of the Oregon public employee pension fund — escaped meaningful attention by lawmakers in the Legislative session that just closed shop in Salem.

That’s unfortunate.

Unfortunate because the failure of lawmakers to tackle these important subjects simply kicks the can down the road. That isn’t an effective way to legislate.

Granted, the Oregon Legislature should be applauded for passing a transportation bill. However, basking in the light of this achievement should be a short interval for lawmakers as they face the issues of tax reform and public employee pension fund.

Gov. Kate Brown said last week she wants to deliver ideas to take on the public employee deficit in 2018. And she further implied that there are special interest groups ready to chat about a new corporate tax plan.

That’s all well and good, but blind assurances are hardly reassuring.

There is no doubt both subjects are extremely complicated. The nature of tax structure, for example, is a mammoth subject that can quickly overwhelm even the most astute-minded lawmaker. And no matter what kind of plan is developed to refashion the state’s tax system, the pressure to come up with a workable plan that everyone can get behind is a huge challenge.

The public employees’ pension fund issue is, in its own way, just as complicated. It isn’t simply a case of making cuts, and that leaves lawmakers in a position where perceptive analysis and decisive action are crucial.

The best news, though, is that state lawmakers set a high bar for themselves in the wake of the transportation bill. It was an ambitious bill that is going to remake Oregon, and at the start of the session odds were stacked against it gaining momentum. However, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers worked extremely hard to find a middle ground. Key issues of contention were hashed out and compromise was found. In short, on the transportation bill, Oregon lawmakers acted in a way that would have made our Founding Fathers proud.

The transportation package’s success proved if lawmakers work hard enough and act like adults, any issue can be overcome.

Compromise and putting the needs of the entire state first are the key themes that emerged from the passage of the transportation bill. If lawmakers can do it on this bill, why can’t they do it on other pressing issues Oregonians face?

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