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Entries in budget (2)


Inching Closer to the "K" Word

It's amazing how quickly you can forget something like the personal kicker, the obscure Oregon income tax provision that can suddenly rain on the parade of an economic recovery for state government.

State economists gave lawmakers this week their latest quarterly estimate of economic progress and state tax collections. The news was good, maybe a little too good. Net proceeds for the State were projected upward by $54 million as a result of more people working, especially on housing. That means no budget cuts to existing state agency budgets.

But the latest uptick in state revenue is precariously close — about $72 million — from the trigger that would require the return of the entire surplus of $290 million or more to state personal income taxpayers, leaving an unanticipated hole in budget planning.

The personal and corporate income tax kickers were instituted by lawmakers to prevent lawmakers from spending "surplus" revenues that exceeded by 2 percent projections on which spending bills were based. The kickers were akin to a financial chastity belt to avoid legislative spending sprees during economic good times that couldn't be sustained in the inevitable economic bad times. 

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Union Settlements: Pro or Con for Kitzhaber?

As rank and file members of state employee unions consider proposed contract settlements, the jury is out on whether the process reflects political credit or debit for Governor John Kitzhaber.

A state employee and SEIU member rallies on the Capitol steps.The public employee collective bargaining process was one of the early tests of the strength of the governor's administration near the start of his third term in office. He campaigned, at least in part, on his ability to deal with public employee unions during collective bargaining negotiations. But critics of public employee collective bargaining contend that, when a Democrat governor's representatives sit across the table from union negotiators, it is like two friends deciding how to spend someone else's money.
It is not clear whether the rank-and-file will support the tentative agreements reached by their negotiators. According to The Oregonian and the Statesman-Journal, some members don't like the agreement and are urging other workers to reject it.  Beyond normal reporting, how do the newspapers know?

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