Predictions of doom and gloom abound as Oregonians get ready to vote next month on a proposal to increase the state income tax.
The tax is needed, proponents say, to raise an additional $315 to balance the state budget.
Here is a partial list of the nightmares that will come true, we are told, if Measure 28 does not pass.
Criminals will be free to rob and plunder because there will not be enough state police officers to round them up, enough court capacity to process them or enough prison space to hold them.
The sick and infirm will be deprived of sorely needed medical treatment because there is no money for the Oregon Health Plan.
Schools, already devastated by deep budget cuts, will have to close, lay off more teachers or jam students into overcrowded classrooms.
In short, the most basic government services - health, education, and safety - will have to be drastically reduced. As a result, Oregon will be unable to attract entrepreneurs and business leaders who have the vision and the wherewithal to initiate a turnaround in the state's economy.
We wonder if Oregonians aren't growing weary, or perhaps even indifferent, to these never-ending predictions of doom and gloom. The latest public opinion polls, which indicate that Measure 28 will go down in flames, suggest that the threat of drastic cuts in government services is not convincing voters to support an increase in the state income tax.
There are basically two ways to approach a budget crisis. One is to cut costs - state police, schools, and health care are the costs currently on the chopping block. The other is to raise taxes, which Oregonians have said repeatedly they are unwilling to do.
We diasagree with Republican leaders who say there is plenty of fat yet to cut from the state budget. Our own state representative, Greg Smith, for example, rails against the Oregon Office of Film and Video as an example of government excess. "Does Oregon really need to be in the business of making films and videos?" he asked during a campaign appearance last October.
If Smith had bothered to check, he would have discovered that the Office of Film and Video has made major contributions to the economy of Wallowa County by landing several feature length movies, television documentaries, and television commercials in this area. The repertoire includes the feature movies "Homeward Bound - The Incredible Journey" and "World Traveler," plus television documentaries "500 Nations," "Chinese to America," and "The West," not to mention television commercials for Keebler's Crackers and Hummer sport utility vehicles, and magazine ads for KLM Airlines and Marlboro cigarettes.
These projects have had a substantial positive impact on the economy of Wallowa County and represent one of a few growth industries in this part of the state. So, to answer Smith's question, yes, we believe the state should continue in the film and video business. It is precisely the forward kind of thinking that Oregon needs more of.
The attitude expressed by Rep. Smith toward the film and video office is symptomatic of the problem - leaders so focused on cutting costs that they cannot see ways to grow the economy and the tax base. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to whack the state police, schools, or the film and video office ... or raise tax rates.
What Oregon desperately needs are leaders who can look beyond simplistic solutions and tap into the manyhuman and natural resources that Oregon has to offer - wide open spaces, unparalleled scenic beauty, sea ports, a modern transportation system, vast forest reserves, agricultural diversity, and a highly educated work force.
Certainly Oregon needs more tax revenues to provide the kinds of services that people need and expect. However, the best way to raise taxes is by growing the economy. Additional economic activity will provide the needed infusion of tax revenues without sticking individuals and businesses with higher rates. R.S.