Skip the partisan fight over budget
With just six weeks before November ballots begin to hit voters' mailboxes, the partisanship in Oregon politics is at the peak of its two-year cycle.
That means, unfortunately, that this is exactly the wrong time for the Oregon Legislature to meet in special session to make urgent budget decisions that affect everything from the length of our children's school year to the number of state troopers on our highways.
The latest revenue forecast released last week shows that state government has an additional $378 million budget shortfall for the current biennium. Normally, we would argue that it is the duty of our elected representatives to call themselves into session (or be called by the governor) to tackle the difficult job of deciding how to close that budget gap. However, the nearness of the November election guarantees that a Legislature already hobbled by hyper-partisan dysfunction will be incapable at this time of making choices based on logic and fairness, as opposed to pure political positioning.
With that political environment in mind, we think the state Emergency Board is best equipped to approve some short-term solutions that get Oregon past the election and into January, when the 2011 Legislature convenes. Then, we hope, lawmakers will be less consumed by the election season heat that tends to color every vote red or blue, and be more ready address the red ink in a meaningful (and sane) way.