State Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) today redefined what a tax is. Buckley, a five-term incumbent, knows a lot about taxes—he's co-chairman of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which writes the state's budget.

But when Buckley stood today to talk about a new proposal from the Oregon School Boards Association that would cut public employee retirement benefits by $1.8 billion, he characterized the effect of such cuts as "the largest tax increase" he's ever seen proposed in the Legislature.

"I cannot support a tax increase of that size," Buckley said in the brief video clip below. 

Normally, a tax is defined as a payment to a government that results in new revenue. Proposed cuts in pension benefits, regardless of the size, would not bring in any new revenue; they would instead classify as reduced expenses.

Buckley says there's more context for his remarks that appears in the clip. He says he was pushing back against GOP members who have referred to the proposal he and Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) put forth last week in their co-chairs budget to end $275 million in tax breaks. He says since Republicans labeled ending tax breaks as a tax increase in remarks on the House floor, he decided to extend that logic to proposed pension cuts.

"I was just having a bit of fun," Buckley says. "My wife told me I sometimes get myself in trouble when I do that."