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Representative Phil Barnhart Newsletter
June 8, 2005

in this issue

Support Oregon Veterans


House Votes Down "Rainy Day" Fund

House Leadership Locks Out Citizen Input

House Passing Record Tax Loopholes

Keep Contacting Me!

Support Oregon Veterans
Soldier Salute

Oregon State's first House Veterans' Affairs Committee in 50 years, where I serve as vice-chair, closed up shop last week, but there is more work to do.

America's soldiers have secured our liberty for generations, fighting heroically in every corner of the globe. They have defended us against the greatest of evils, from Nazism to terrorism. In return, they have asked only for our respect for their sacrifice and treatment for the wounds of battle.

America's soldiers and veterans have not only faced challenges in combat, but also at home. Today, many of them sacrifice life and limb in Iraq or Afghanistan, only to return home to be neglected by the same politicians who sent them to war.

Half of the Guardsmen in the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, based in Cottage Grove, returned from Iraq unemployed. The situation is worse for retired veterans: half of America's homeless population consists of veterans of foreign wars.

The Federal government has failed to provide the same housing and education support for recent veterans as in the past. Now it has failed to adequately equip and armor our soldiers in Iraq. It has cut combat pay. It nearly abandons our National Guardsmen as they transition from combat deployments to civilian life.

It would be an insult to our values to mimic this neglect.There are many ways that we, in Oregon, can serve those who have served us. I have fought for, and the House Veterans' Affairs Committee has passed, an Oregon Military Family Relief Program. I am still working to pass some bills that should be "no- brainers," like HB 3096, which would end Oregon's taxation of combat pay.

America must keep its promises to our troops. We, in Oregon, can do our bit. It is time that we fight for our soldiers and veterans, just as they have fought for us.

  • Greetings!
  • This is the eighth e-newsletter that I will be sending out during the 2005 session of the Oregon State Legislature. The purpose of this newsletter is to keep you informed about the progress that the Legislature is making, and about the work that I am doing to represent House District 11 and to support the values that we all hold dear: educating and nurturing our children, supporting our seniors and disabled, and protecting our communities.

  • House Votes Down "Rainy Day" Fund
  • Rainy day fund

    House Joint Resolution 53 would have proposed an amendment to establish the Oregon Reserve Fund, but the House majority killed it along a party-line vote. Money for the fund would have come from half the amount raised by the capital gains tax, as well as half of the ending balance of the state's general fund. The proposed amendment to the Constitution would have gone to the voters at the next general election, and if approved, would have taken effect in 2007.

    I sponsored this bill in order to improve Oregon's financial standing, to reduce the tax dollars devoted to paying high interest rates, and to protect K-12 education and other services from the ups and downs of the business cycle. No House Committee has yet held a hearing focused on this issue.

  • House Leadership Locks Out Citizen Input
  • Lock

    The House Leadership has given over 30 bills the generic title of "relating to state financial administration," and now gives less than 10 minutes of notice, and no public hearing, before amending the bills to include massive spending decisions and passing them out of committee. On May 24th, in a particularly egregious case, the House Budget Committee gave only seven minutes notice before passing the House leadership's $5.22 billion K-12 budget.

    The Salem Statesman Journal summed up this strategy as "government in secret." I object to these tactics because they undermine the right of all citizens to give input on bills before the Legislature. The newspaper put it less gently: "Your input is not required; thanks all the same."

    See the Statesman Journal article
  • House Passing Record Tax Loopholes
  • The House has now passed more than $885 million in new tax loopholes during this session alone. That's more than five times the entire annual budget for the state police! When the session began, I argued that we should review existing loopholes and reform the tax system to ensure that everyone, including powerful special interests, pay their fair share. I have spent the entire session playing defense against the House leadership that insists on giving away record amounts of tax dollars to out-of-state corporations and the extremely wealthy instead of paying for the basic services that we all use. Since K-12 funding is half of the state budget, these new tax loopholes would equal a $442 million cut to our schools!

  • Keep Contacting Me!
  • Many constituents have been contacting me asking why the Legislature is even considering some obviously bad ideas, like requiring biometric information from Oregon citizens before providing us drivers' licenses. These questions are often difficult to answer, because I oppose such invasions of privacy as vehemently as the next person.

    All I can say is please continue contacting me when you hear about bills that would be bad for Oregon, and I will continue voting against them. Likewise, please let me know when you have an interest in good ideas before the Legislature, because I might be able to help them through the legislative process.

    Phone: (503) 986-1411

    June 8, 2005