Last week, we ran an interview
with Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, in which he urged his fellow Democrats who control the state Legislature to take up reform of the state's "kicker" during this month's special session. The governor, who's in the final year of his last term in office, confidently said that Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Dave Hunt were "very much" interested in the idea but were "just trying to figure it out politically."
Apparently, the two Democratic leaders have figured it out, and it's not happening this year since Kulongoski released this statement this afternoon:
I have been notified by legislative leadership that they do not intend to refer kicker reform and an emergency reserve fund to the November ballot during this special session – or anytime this year.
“This decision by legislative leadership is disappointing and a missed opportunity for the people of Oregon who strongly support using a portion of the kicker revenues to build an adequate reserve for critical services.
“There is no more important issue for the legislature to address at this time. Oregonians deserve the opportunity to establish an emergency reserve fund in our state constitution that will help provide fiscal stability and certainty in the state's budgeting process.
“We will never end this cycle of roller coaster budgeting that forces us to cut schools and public safety in every recession unless we reform the kicker and build a strong reserve fund.
“The people of Oregon deserve better.”
That "deserves better" seems to be a popular phrase
: Hunt and Courtney confirmed the death of kicker reform in a joint press release his afternoon, with Hunt saying that creating jobs trumps tax reform at the moment ("We're not opposed to tax reform," Hunt said. "But today our number one priority is helping families through this recession. Then we can turn our attention on how to buffer the next economic downturn.”)