Waving protest signs is a great way to catch a politician's eye (who doesn't love a child flaunting a little "OMG CRC WTF"?), but next week there are a couple events gearing up to get people talking face-to-face with politicians.
First up, the entire Ways and Means Committee is meeting in Portland next week for a special public session on what the budget looks like with a $4-6 billion hole in it. "This will be the most depressing three hours since The English Patient," laments Bus Project lobbyist Henry Kraemer. But if you're wondering what programs will get cut and how the state will use taxes to patch the hole, head on down to the PCC Cascade Campus Arts and Humanities Auditorium next TUESDAY from 6-9PM. It'll be just like our March Sadness Brewhaha but less drunk and probably with no jokes about "shovel-ready grandparents." "The idea is to inform the public about out dire situation and, to put it lightly, our imperfect revenue structure," says Kraemer.
Meanwhile, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance is packing Salem with bike advocates for two days next week for the Oregon Bike Summit. The BTA scheduled workshops and half-hour meet-and-greets with all Portland representatives (their full lobbying agenda is a pdf here). The big things they're hoping citizen bike wonks will bring up with legislators is bike funding in the governor's massive Jobs and Transportation Act and consideration of transit options for new public schools siting. And of course, you could put in your two cents on the Columbia River Crossing bridge. Email Margaux at the BTA for more info.
Oh! And! Transit nerds! Check out this cute video about the Idaho Stop Law. The BTA is currently racing to find 31 legislators to vote "yes" on the controversial law before it dies in committee. The group is in a tough lobbying situation after fired its only Salem lobbyist two weeks ago. But, hey, head out to next week's events and cut yourself a fat check - you're an independent lobbyist now!
More talk on TAXES below the cut.
Between yesterday's crazy anti-tax protest and the Gresham poverty forum last week, there's been a lot of speculation on how the state can get some cash. I asked Kraemer and Our Oregon advocate Scott Moore what taxes the legislature is likely to increase. Both pointed to taxes on corporations. "Corporations pay a lower rate than people," says Kraemer, pointing out that business pay 6.6% income tax regardless of their income, while Oregonians in the upper income tiers pay seven and nine percent. Moore noted that taxes on corporations made up 18 percent of the state budget in the 1970s. Today, due to decades of tax breaks, corporate taxes make up only six percent. "The burden to pick up the rest of that tab has fallen to us individuals," says Moore.