As the Department of Revenue opened its doors for the media to get sound and pictures of kicker checks about to be mailed, a non-partisan research institute suggested the kicker story was somewhat different than that presented by the state tax agency.
“The real kicker story won’t be found at the printing and mailing facility,” said Charles Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy.
Download a copy of this news release:
Finding the Real Kicker Story, with charts.
A distributional analysis of the 1999-2001 Kicker, September 26, 2001
“At the mailing plant you can watch the government spend over $900,000 to print and mail the $254 million tax cut while legislators and the Governor struggle to figure out how to fill Oregon’s budget shortfall,” said Sheketoff.
Sheketoff suggested that Oregonians look elsewhere for the “real” kicker story. “Visit hospital emergency rooms and talk to the uninsured, visit food banks and meet the families who have fallen through the shrunken safety net, visit child care providers who can’t afford to participate in Oregon’s child care subsidy program because the state pays below market rates, talk to county health departments about how they are unprepared to address bioterrorism due to lack of funding, talk with school board chairs and school administrators and ask them if they received adequate funding to educate our children,” said Sheketoff.
“Don’t just watch the kicker checks get stuffed into envelopes, follow the money. See how two-thirds of the funds go to the most economically comfortable 20 percent of Oregon households,” said Sheketoff. “This is a tax cut that helps the most those who need it the least.”
“Oregonians need to ask hard questions,” said Sheketoff. “Ask the Governor and Oregon’s legislative leadership: how do they justify sending out lawfully collected taxes while bemoaning a revenue shortfall? Don’t let them tell you it is a stimulus,” said Sheketoff. “That argument is as bankrupt as the state budget. It isn’t new money coming into the Oregon economy, so it clearly can’t act as a stimulus.”
In 10 days, all state agencies are submitting proposals to the Governor to cut their budgets by 10 percent due to Oregon’s revenue shortfall. The kicker equals approximately 10 percent of the budget of the Department of Human Services. “DHS officials can tell Oregonians what government services for Oregon’s vulnerable children, seniors, and families are likely to be on the chopping block due to Oregon’s revenue shortfall,” said Sheketoff. “The Department of Administrative Services can tell taxpayers how Oregonians will be harmed by the budget cuts being proposed by the state agencies to meet the revenue shortfall.”
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