The co-chairs of the Ways and Means committee released their budget Tuesday. This marks an important turning point for the 2011 legislative session. The budget still has to be passed by the House and Senate and approved by Governor Kitzhaber, but its release means many other bills that hang on budget issues can begin to move forward. The $14.6 billion spending plan would provide more money to schools than the one proposed by the governor earlier this year. However, the co-chairs say their budget would require cuts to all state programs.
Speaking of budget-related legislation, there’s been a lot of talk this session about reducing Oregon’s capital gains taxes. You may recall that this was a big issue in the race for governor last year. And it’s certainly come up in previous sessions. This year, there seems to be at least some agreement about cutting taxes on capital gains, though legislators differ on exactly how much should be cut. Too steep a cut, some say, is not an option in an already tight budget. Cutting too little, it’s argued, would not offer enough incentives for businesses to expand or start up here.
Believe it or not, the legislature does discuss issues that have nothing to do with money. This week, the House passed HCR 14, adopting 10 principles outlined in the “Code of the West” as a guideline for Oregonians to live by. The code comes from James P. Owen of the Center for Cowboy Ethics, and its concise instructions include “Be tough, but fair,” “Know where to draw the line,” and “Talk less and say more.” The House voted 44 to 14 to adopt the resolution. It now moves to the Senate.
Our Capital People feature introduces interesting people who work in the Capitol building but are not elected officials. This week, it’s Frankie Bell, who has worked in the Capitol since 1966. She’s currently the Senate chamber receptionist. Frankie will share memories from a time when legislators didn’t have individual offices and there was a lot more social interaction among lawmakers after work.
What would you like to ask someone who’s worked in the Capitol for 45 years? What’s your reaction to the co-chairs’ budget? How would a reduction in capital gains taxes affect you? Do you plan to live by the Code of the West?
- Richard Devlin: Oregon state representative (D-Tualitin) and co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee
- Peter Buckley: Oregon state representative (D-Ashland) and co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee
- Kevin Cameron: Oregon state representative (R-Salem) and House Republican Leader
- Phil Barnhart: Oregon state representative (D-Central Lane and Linn Counties) and co-chair of the House Revenue Committee
- Tim Freeman: Oregon state representative (R-Roseberg) and sponsor of HCR 14
- Frankie Bell: Senate Chamber Receptionist who has worked in the Capitol building since 1966