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Learn more at Hi, I'm Stephanie Fowler, and this is Seven Days, our topics this week, the Governor's New Budget Proposal, and an update on several ballot measures that were scheduled to become
law this week. Let's meet this week's panel. Harriet Stavg covers politics for the Eugene Register Guard. Bridget Barton is co-editor at Brainstorm Magazine. Mark Zussman is the editor of Vlamant Week in Portland, and Dana Haynes is the editor at the Lake Uswego Review. Earlier this week, Governor Kitshopper released his proposed budget for the next two years. His proposal totals $10.7 billion, a 14% increase over the current state budget. How are there any surprises or new directions in this budget? Well, no, in the word, to anyone who's followed the campaign, what the Governor did is essentially put money in the budget to fund the sort of programs that he promised to fund in his campaign. And that's schools, juvenile crime prevention, and growth management issues, as he calls them. In terms of new directions, you know, it may have been a surprise that the Governor tax
aber as he's been called sometimes didn't introduce any big new tax proposals if there's going to be a gas tax he's waiting for, the business associated Oregon industry is to introduce it. So, you know, like I say, it's a budget that I think reflects the fact that the economy's taken a little bit of a downturn in Oregon. So it's a cautious budget and one that just builds a little bit on the issues that the Governor has espoused. I think the big surprise is how few surprises there are. And even if you take a look at the money he's allocated towards the big three, or his big three, the issues that he's staked out during the campaign, juvenile crime being a big one. He's put $30 million into regional strategies. He's completely unclear what those will be, except he's going to encourage local districts to write the equivalent of grant applications for money. And $30 million, frankly, is not-
Public an approach to the problem and give it to the counties and let them figure out how to do it. And it's not a huge amount of money. In terms of the transportation or the sort of growth strategy, it's for sewers, it's for high-speed rail down the I-5 corridor, and it again only totals about $120 million. It's not a lot of money. And then his third priority was education. Was it not? And what I find most interesting, and I actually have been a little bit critical of some of the media coverage in this state, much of which has said he's pouring a lot more money into K-12 education. He's not. He's actually only increased the amount of money available to K-12 by 4.4%, which if you factor an inflation in the increase in the projected increase in student enrollment is actually less money, two years hence than it is now. So I'm not even sure that he's funding his priorities in any real way. That said, he is somewhat hamstrung by the slowdown in the economy and some anticipated increases in spending, principally the Oregon Health Plan, which is really eating up a lot
of this 14% increase in the budget. Yeah, that's what I was going to say. Not that there's any real disagreement between the Republicans and Democrats that would up here, but I would not call this a cautious budget because it's a 14% increase. And the fact that the economy is as sort of volatile as it is right now, a 14% increase is really quite significant. It's not in education though, you're right, education is probably the most boring part of this budget because there's first of all very little disagreement and not huge, huge growth there. But there are other areas where there are things going on, and one of the areas that I find interesting is the amount of bonded debt. Instead of turning to new taxes, we're turning to bonded debt. Well, that appears to me to be sort of a shell game. It's still an increase. In the long run, that's going to come out of taxpayers' pockets. And unfortunately, there are lottery funds, which is in effect a tax. And a 14% increase, that's really substantial. Well, Bridget, you alluded to this before, at least the Senate Republicans have a plan.
It's unclear, at least to me, how far the House has signed up on the Senate Republicans plan. And the Senate Republicans plan is very close to the governor's plan. Is it not? And that's a 13.5% increase, essentially, the same, give or take maybe even higher than that. They're very close. That simply reflects the revenues that the state is collecting. I mean, they have to balance the budget with the amount of revenues they get. The state within the past couple of years economy has been red hot, and income tax collections has a result of people, a lot of people working, a lot of people making pretty good money. You've got this large increase in revenues, and then it's being dispersed and it's being reflected in these budgets. A lot of the money is going for prison construction, which is maybe another area that we need to look at. And off a lot despite it seeming like a small increase is going in the schools. I mean, it's consuming a huge chunk of the state's budget, because schools aren't being
funded as much by local property taxes anymore. There is a $3.5 billion out of what is it, $10.7 billion for schools. I mean, that's a very, very large hit. And some people were a little surprised to see the Oregon Health Plan is going to take about a $56 million hit, also, unless you were paying attention last session, you realized what they had done is they increased the number of people who were being covered and they also increased the number of ailments they were covered. And frankly, the health plan is increasing a lot faster than the medical rate of inflation in the nation. So something had to give there anyway. So if I understand that the legislature re-ups a 10 cent a pack cigarette tax, then it's only going to be about a $24 million hit to the Oregon Health Plan. So it's not a huge change. It's not a sea change or anything, but they are going to try and cut that inflation back a little bit, because it's a real spending program right now. Stephanie, your points were coming back to two years ago, the governor delivered his budget in the Senate, then Senate President Brady Adams said this budget is dead on arrival, and it sort of set the tone for what was a very contentious legislative session in which
the governor and the Senate were at odds virtually the entire session. This time, the governor has his budget. The senator provides, Senator Brady Adams provides the budget for the Senate Republicans. We're very close and Senator Brady Adams says, I kind of like Governor Kitsarber's budget, and I think I can work with him. I'm a little bit suspicious of this lovy doviness, but the big question, as you say, is the speaker of the House, Lynn Snodgrass, who has yet to really weigh in, whose view is actually being far more conservative than Brady Adams, and whether or not she's going to support the sort of priorities that this budget reflects, I think, is far too early to tell. The biggest difference, though, between two years ago, and this year is two years ago, there was this gigantic kicker refund that, in the $400 and something million range. I can't remember exactly what it was at the time, because at the time the budget's winner reduced because it grew from there, but it was large, maybe it was in the $300 million range, and then it grew to the $400 million range. Governor Kitsarber, when he delivered his budget two years ago, wanted to use that money
to spend it on state revenues, and Senator President Brady Adams and House Speaker and Lenquist at the time said, forget about it, and that's where the dead on the rival question came in. This time, there is no kicker, at least temporarily. Well, we don't know that. Yeah, but well, that's the glaze forecast, and it's not included in either budget, so they have that off the table, which will make things a little easier when it comes down to just how to spend the money. I agree, I'd be real hesitant to say, oh, it's going to go along smoothly, because when you start really looking at the details of the budget, there are plenty of traps in there and plenty of surprises. There's already one on prison, so I mean, he's wanting to start. The governor is wanting to defund this whole inmate work program, which is a constitutional amendment that the voters approved. That's going to cause problems. That's a small item in the budget. But, you know, there are some stated differences in thinking between them. I think that are very clear and have been well reported.
And one of the things that I see is that there are $350 million in new programs in the governor's budget, whereas Senator Adams has said he's looking for $170 million in tax cuts for low-income families. So in other words, you know, facing, no, that's not- 150 million dollars in tax cuts for low-income families. 124 not-taxing private sector. Right. And a combination of a tax cut, whereas the governor's looking for $350 million to go into new programs. The point I'm trying to make is that radio items takes the approach that, when you have some surplus, that's the time that, in facing perhaps some downturns later. That's when you cut back, whereas the governor's approach seems to be while you've got it, spend it. Of course, radio items approach also has a higher, more staff for his office in the House leadership, too. We'll see how far that goes. He'd recommended that the staff to be increased by 12 or 14 people. I think given the fact, given the term limits problems that adding some staff and getting some reliable information coming into these people is not a bad idea.
Let's see how that goes. He spoke briefly with, I'm sorry, with Randy Miller who's going to be chairing appropriations in the Senate. He's never been on appropriations and now he's going to chair it. He said he went away for a weekend with a Tom Clancy thriller and about tax documents like that. And he said one of the controversial things that he's anticipating is that the governor put together a committee, a commission this summer to talk about the tax program. This group came back and said what we need is a rainy day fund and that they're going to push really strongly for a good creation of a governor's or they're going to ask through the company's tax commission. Right. And Randy Miller said, yeah, it seems like a good idea. It seems like a nice thing to have. But a rainy day fund means having a certain number of dollars that you don't spend and everybody down there is going to have projects that they want all that money spent on their pet projects. And whether or not that's going to go anywhere, they're going to try and create a rainy day fund. That could be one of the real controversial issues. Well, they have the windfall of the tobacco settlement money, which I think some people are saying that could be used for the rainy day fund. And it's second day. I kind of tend to agree with you and I think Senator Adams would too, that rather than bring
in the rainy day fund, how about we not collect the money or we return it in tax cuts because if it's there, it will be spent. Well, and it's a little bit difficult for him to make that case when he has essentially offered a budget that spends almost, identically, what Governor Kitsabra is spending. There's different ways of doing that. And he has these very modest tax cuts that he's proposed, but it's nothing like what you might have heard before about an across the board income tax cut and something along those lines. Sir, they are modest. You're right. And his budget was released before the state economist came in with this kind of chilling forecast that we're going to be tapering off in our growth a little bit. Worth pointing out, however, that we're not going into dire times. He said, people are not going to be singing, brother, can you spare a dime. He's just saying that the growth is going to slow down from the really, really strong growth we had to kind of mediocre growth. Although the expectation is that the next revenue forecast is going to be even more dire than this one and then there may in fact be less money available to Salem than even the Governor's budget, which will create some, that's why they've done something dire as a
bit of a strong word. I mean, what this latest forecast said was that the anticipated surplus will not be quite as big as anticipated earlier this year. And the earlier forecast, in September, it would be 100 million short, which ironically gives the state more money because it puts it under the threshold for the kicker, which means that it all would have to be returned to the taxpayer, actually gives the state more money to spend. Right. Along with what you said there, the government programs are not known for their adaptability to ups and downs in the economy. And that's why I bring up the point of the 350 million in new programs. I think it's pretty clear to people that we are facing some fairly significant ups and downs at the least and maybe it's sort of a trend down in the economy. And given that, it would be good to see our Governor and our legislature looking for ways to make some of these programs more flexible, perhaps now not be adding new programs. And that's what I don't see in this budget as an effort to look for some adaptability
for these obvious coming trends. There are a couple of other things worth pointing out in this budget. One is that this budget calls for freezing of higher ed tuition, which is new, new, but I mean, it's the first time in six years, three sessions. No, six seconds. Six seconds. Six seconds. Yeah. That's right, last time. But the college tuition have been, they may not be high enough depending on your attitude, but they have been raised quite a bit up until the last legislative session. And this continues that freeze while providing funding for this deregulation of higher education. And the decentralization, the reorganization that we decentralize. In which you change the funding formula for schools. There was an audit released today or actually yesterday by the Secretary of State's office, which calls into question the corrections budget. And if that audit is taken to heart, it actually may allow Salem to spend less money on corrections, because it basically says we're building too many prisons too fast and they're too expensive. So that may free up.
That may free up some money. The other interesting thing worth pointing out, which Harry and I were talking about before the show, is if you remember, last session, Kitsava proposed an $800 million or $1 billion transportation tax because of the terrible shape in which our infrastructure supposedly is in the state, roads, highways, bridges, and on. That is virtually non-existent in this budget. And Harry's better informed about this than I am, we're going to be seeing that attempt in the way of a tax increase, but it's not going to come from the governor. It's going to come from the business lobby, which is sort of a completely different shift in tactics. How did that happen, Harry? How did that occur? What's the strategy there? I don't know what went on in closed-door meetings or whatever might have percolated this to the top. In the last session, it was almost a given at the beginning of the session that there was going to be a gas tax increase. Senate President Brady Adams said he supported it and in Lungquist, the speaker supported it and the governor was going to propose it. And it was just a matter of how much and how large and how it would be handled.
And then it all came crashing down at the last days of the session and it got tangled up with all things charter schools. And so the reason that we didn't have a tax increase this time around isn't because we don't need the money to fix the roads because there's a widespread feeling that we do among Republicans and Democrats. It was because of political wrangling. So this time, the business lobby, which is very concerned about the state of roads because if you don't have good roads, you can't move your goods back and forth and people can't get the work on time, et cetera, et cetera, they're saying, look, why don't we make the proposal that takes the governor's imprint off of it? It maybe spreads a little oil to calm the waters essentially and just might make things a little easier when a time comes to actually have to vote on it. So Bridget, here we have the business lobby proposing new taxes and new programs. I'm not surprised actually. Stepping back just for a second to the K-12 budget, I think the other thing worth pointing
out is prior to 1990, 80 cents of every dollar that were spent by public schools came from property taxes. And now it's almost reverse, we're almost 80 cents on a dollar comes from state government and you're beginning to see with the governor's budget the beginning of strings attached to that money and where you're seeing it is and there's this money he's piling into schools and then he adds another hundred million dollars for school improvements in which individual school districts will have to submit a plan to Salem and say, here's how we're going to increase student improvement and if Salem says, oh, this plan looks okay, they'll give them money. Now whether this is just going to create another bureaucracy in Salem or whether this is going to lead to true school improvement is unclear. But what you're beginning to see now is this state getting much more involved than just giving money to schools but directing how our school is doing and trying to exercise some control. And I think that's a pretty significant step. But they admit that they still don't have any sense of how school districts are spending money and what they're spending on and whether they're spending it efficiently.
You know, it's a clearing house for that kind of information so they can start charting some of that. This is all going to be really controversial I think because the educators I've talked to say, okay, give us $10 and now all the kids will get to see, give us $15 and they'll get to be minuses. Well, it's not the way it works and to say you get this money if kids have better grades, that's a very, very tenuous connection between those two things and I don't think that it works quite that simply. So I think that the OEA and also the School Board Association is going to fight that. So is the controversy over K through 12 education? It seems like a shaping up to be between the legislature and the governor on one side and the school lobby and the other and parents and administrators and not so much this time over the amount of money between the Republicans and the Democrats. No, it's actually, in fact, I think it's just going to be back to the same old argument which is going to be the legislature as a whole and the governor saying we're going to give you this much and the lobby and the teachers saying no, we want more. No, this is just the status quo versus the status quo and until we get charter schools and a good, strong charter school law, where there's real accountability, where when what
happens when you don't perform is that the school goes out of business. Well, thank you for taking our outer space and we don't have any time to visit outer space right now. We'll be back there, though, in another session. We've got to move on. We have to move on to our second topic. I hate to leave it there. The adoptee showed up at the Vital Records offices in Portland in Salem Thursday to reaffirm their support of measure 58, which Oregon voters approved last month. The measure would allow adult adoptees to obtain copies of their original birth certificates. But on Wednesday, a Marion County judge put the new law unhulled after four birth mothers filed suit claiming the law violates their constitutional rights. Mark, what's the basis of their claim? As I understand it, I haven't read the lawsuit. They're arguing that this measure, measure 58, would violate the privacy protections of birth mothers, violating the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and is a form of contract violation that, while it was not, written that many birth mothers received
a verbal agreement when they gave the child up for adoption. That adoption agency said, we will never disclose who you are to this child unless you give us the okay. And that reaching back and doing that is an effect of violation of that contract. This lawsuit was widely expected on both sides. It is not a surprise, and will be a test case not only for this state, but for other states as they consider moving in this direction. So what does this mean for the prospects of the law here? Well, people who are on the pro side of 58 expected this believe it will stand up to any constitutional challenge, and strongly believe that there will be no legal prohibition against giving a birth record to an adoptee who is over the age of 21 that it's just a matter of time. But I think it's inevitable that this issue will become politicized, not as politicized
as legal assisted suicide, but politicized nonetheless, and it will be several months at a minimum before it's ironed out. And if I'm right, it's also marching through the courts in Tennessee, and it's a head of Oregon, it may get through the courts, and the precedent may be set in Tennessee courts before it goes as far as it has to go in Oregon. Almost all the states, 48 states, I think, protect the adoption records and the birth mother's history now. Kansas doesn't somewhere else, or last year, so it's not where it is doesn't. So there has been an oral contract for 30 or 40 years in the state of Oregon, if you would give up a child, this information will be. I think part of the strategy also is this was not a constitutional amendment. It was statutory, and so it can be tinkered with by the legislature. And I think there's some hope on the part of opponents of 58 that the legislature will go in and adjust it so that it will be acceptable to opponents and will also stand up to court scrutiny.
And the way to- Well, the legislature could do a couple of things. They could require that when Sam adopted, I go in and I file to get my birth record. Before I get it, the county clerk gives notice to you, my parent says, you need to know that your adopted child has requested, so it gives you a month or two months to prepare emotionally. And it would also give you the opportunity to say, you know, I really don't want to see, I don't want this person to find me. And it wouldn't prevent me from being able to do it, but at least I would have noticed that my real birth father has no interest in seeing me thus creating the sort of the notice that this measure doesn't provide. I think one of the interesting things that happens when ballot measures pass, especially ones that are laden with emotion, such as this one, and others that are pretty complicated, while they're being voted on or as they're being campaigned on this crush of information that comes out on them, and it's usually in those kind of very emotional tones because they're trying to get votes and they're paying money for consultants and so forth to put
ads on TV and on the radio. Then if it passes and it goes to the courts, you get the same arguments again. I mean right now we're all talking and you're hearing on talk radio and seeing opinion pages of the paper, the pros and cons once again being gone through, but it's in a real different atmosphere because it's not an election, it's now really taking a more clinical look at what this measure does, and I think the same thing happened with assisted suicide, which is why I think on the second time around it passed as handled as it did. It went through the courts and there was much broader discussion of it on just probably more rational tones and then you had a... Sorry to suggest that we vote twice on all of them. Well no, I'm just point out that it's one of the interesting aspects of Oregon's initiative and referendum is that almost all of these end up going through the courts and then you go through this second campaign in a way but it's not to get votes, it's really just more to get the idea.
The other idea is the other irony too is that in Oregon there's the voluntary adoption registry that has been in operation since the early 80s and if you're a birth mother and you sign up and say you want to reconnect with your child or if your child is signed up, this group facilitated that. So that party existed also if you're an adoptee and you needed some medical information about family, medical history, that sort of thing, this agency would organize getting that information about breaking the covenant of trust there. So it seems like there were mechanisms in the state of Oregon for a lot of the things that adoptees say they want except for one thing and one thing only in that is the unabridged, unedited birth certificate. Just quickly getting back to what you said, I think it's a great point and if you were cynic you might think even that some of these measures were put out there with some of the emotional factor in so that once they go through the constitutional review and this one particularly being a statutory where it can be changed, it's clear that it would be easier to pass this measure if it had the retroactivity so that you could use the current kids, the grown adopted kids as your spokespeople, without that in the measure,
I think it would have been harder to pass. So now in the sort of the secondary discussion that when we get more down to, well, is this legal, does it really respect the contract law and so on, then we can make these little changes and again if you're a cynic you might say, well, this might have been the plan all along and we are seeing a lot more of it and it makes me wonder at least take a second look at some of these initiatives in advance and say, are they really constitutional and is this just an effort to sort of begin a process or is this what the measure was meant to do from the beginning? So this is another argument for some sort of constitutional review panel prior to putting a measure on the ballot or at least for the public to be wary of what they're looking at in these measures in advance and maybe to have better reporting on the constitutionality of some of these measures in advance. And it should be said also that it's not absolutely clear that this is a viable contract, I mean, that's what opponents say, but that's not necessarily clear and it's an implicit
contract if anything, not explicit and can a contract bind a third party. I mean, there are issues on both sides of that. It's not clear a cut. I think this discussion makes it sound as if, oh yes, this is a contract that the birth mother's had with the state and with the option agencies and it's been violated. It's not that clear a cut at this point. No, absolutely not, but as Mark was saying, it looks like now we may go back and just set it as of now and it certainly would make it easier to pass that muster than if it has the retroactivity in it. But you're right, no, it's definitely up near and it may go through as is. Will this have a chilling effect on adoptions? Will people choose to go the route of abortion rather than adoption if they don't think that they're going to be able to keep? Absolutely, no evidence. There's no evidence. Yeah. One way or another, there's no evidence. There's no evidence that abortion increases if you tell someone who's going to give up their child for adoption, that if they go this route, that they're trying to find them
at some sort of open adoptions of letting the parents have some ability to visit or at least know what's going on with the child that they put up for adoption. If the record is sealed in 48 states, I don't know that there's evidence. I haven't been able to find evidence either direction. Well, adoption agencies keep records of whether they have open adoptions or closed adoptions and statistics can always be juggled and jimmed and manipulated. But I think the national statistic I read was that 80 percent of adoptions is kind of high to me, but are open adoptions. Whereas the birth parents and the adopted parents have knowledge of each other and knowledge of where each other is and that there is sun. The reason why this measure was retroactive is it really tried to embrace this. Was it 1948? I can't remember. The 30 year period where it was shameful to give up your child for adoption. That's really not the attitude anymore. So it was during that period of time when birth mothers may have wanted to keep the identity of their identity secret, although that's not even clear. And that's why I think
the retroactive is an important portion of this measure. I think to this point, Janice Makin has well taken that some of these statistics can be hard to be, first of all, to get. And second of all, to be certain about it's hard to know what's in the mind of a woman that's going to have an abortion with, you know, what exactly their decisions were, what they report and what is reported about them. It's difficult to know. Excuse me for interrupting, but we're out of time, Dana Haynes, Mark Zessman, Bridget Barton, Harry Estef. Thanks for joining us this week on Seven Days. And thank you for watching. Good night.
Seven Days
Leg. & Gov. Budget Proposals; Medical Marijuana/Adoption
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Host Stephanie Fowler and guests discuss Leg. & Gov. Budget Proposals and medical marijuana and adoption
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Seven Days is a news talk show featuring news reports accompanied by discussions with panels of experts on current events in Oregon.
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1998 Oregon Public Broadcasting
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Guest: Barton, Bridget
Guest: Haynes, Dana
Guest: Esteve, Harry
Guest: Zusman, Mark
Host: Fowler, Stephanie
Producing Organization: Oregon Public Broadcasting
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Oregon Public Broadcasting
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Duration: 00:28:30
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Chicago: “Seven Days; Leg. & Gov. Budget Proposals; Medical Marijuana/Adoption,” 1998-12-04, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 20, 2024,
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