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Sources: Partisan bickering starts before new session begins

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State Senate Republicans believe the 2016 Oregon Legislature will be just as partisan as the bitter 2015 session.

How do we know? Because the Senate Republican Office said so in a Jan. 13 news release. It accused Senate Democrats of having a “Dirty Dozen” partisan priorities for the 35-day session that begins Feb. 1. They range from a measure to raise the minimum wage to a deal struck between environmentalists and Oregon’s largest utilities to phase out coal in favor of renewable energy.

“In the aftermath of a contentious legislative session defined by partisan politics, the majority party is determined to abuse the short February session by once again advancing a partisan, polarizing agenda backed by special interests,” reads the release.

The next day, Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15.52 in Portland and $13.50 in the rest of the state. It was immediately praised by Democratic Senate President Peter Courtney of Salem and Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek of Portland.

Whos the most progressive of them all?

State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey aren’t the most progressive candidates in the mayor’s race. David Schor has proposed a city income tax on the wealthiest 1 percent of Portlanders that he says will raise $200 million a year for affordable housing.

Although Schor, an assistant attorney general for the Oregon Department of Justice, is calling his proposal a Millionaires’ Tax, it would apply to any city resident earning more than $350,000 a year. He bases his projections on Oregon tax data that shows the top 1 percent of Portlanders paid 14.7 percent of state income taxes generated in the city in 2013.

“Unlike Portland’s current income tax, the Arts Tax, which is regressive, the Millionaires’ Tax will be progressive and will only affect the richest 1 percent of Portland’s income earners,” Schor says.

Halescampaign pays first refund

Since Charlie Hales dropped out of the 2016 Portland mayor’s race, only one contributor has apparently asked for a rebate, so far. Hales’ political action committee reports a $1,000 refund to local architect Anthony Belluschi on Oct. 29 of last year.

That leaves Hales free to spend the rest of his surplus as he sees fit, although the campaign is still paying off some previous bills. For example, the committee paid an additional $46,000 to Murmur Creative on Dec. 10, raising the cost of its unused website to $9,390.74.

And the committee also has given $1,000 each to the re-election campaigns being run by commissioners Amanda Fritz and Steve Novick, leaving a balance of $27,675.44, according to the most recent filings.