'Oregon's negative press clippings continue to mount. Our state's inability to deal with its financial crisis has provided fodder for multiple opinion columns. É Meanwhile, a new rallying cry has emerged in legislatures throughout the country: 'We don't want to be like Oregon.'

' É Many observers note that Oregon once was a model for education and health care. Now, it's an example of fiscal failure.

'Perhaps it is this sudden transformation from admired to disdained that is so disconcerting. The size of Oregon's deficit can be attributed not only to its abnormally high unemployment rate and its reliance on a single tax, but also to its ambitions. Oregon attempted to provide more than basic Medicaid and Medicare coverage, so it invented the Oregon Health Plan. Oregon wanted its schools to be the best in the nation, so it set difficult standards and, in many cases, compensated its teachers at a higher level. Oregon's land-use system has contained sprawl, but it also created a taxpayer-funded bureaucracy.

'Oregon's government likely costs more than other states because Oregonians desired to be different. Now, the question that confronts all Oregon citizens Ñ not just its legislators Ñ is whether we can afford it. Is our state government truly that wasteful, or are we trying to eat caviar in a tuna-fish economy?

' É A commitment to above-average services also requires above-average funding. Right now, Oregon's desires are colliding with its ability to pay.'

Ñ From an editorial published May 8 in the Lake Oswego Review

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