Kulongoski: Create rainy day fund from kicker

Kulongoski: Create rainy day fund from kicker »Play Video
Oregon Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski speaks in Salem, Ore., Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010, about the passage of two tax initiatives in the state's election yesterday. Oregon voters passed both tax Measures 66 and 67.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

SALEM, Ore. - Gov. Ted Kulongoski said Tuesday the brutal campaigns over raising taxes have to end; instead, the state needs to look for long-term funding solutions.

To do so he proposed that state lawmakers refer a measure to the ballot asking voters to give up part of their kicker money to the state.

“The issue - kicker reform - is the single most important issue the Legislature can address during the special session,” Kulongoski said.

Currently, every time state revenues exceed projections by two percent, taxpayers get a refund check in the mail, but fresh off double-tax increase wins Tuesday at the ballot box, the governor said he wants more money to create a state emergency reserve fund.

“I believe if we structure the rules around the use of the reserve fund, and it’s fair and prudent in its distribution, I think they will vote for it,” he said.

But critics said the governor is focusing on the wrong thing; instead, he should be looking for ways to create more private-sector jobs, and gas station owner Brent DeHart said it’s “scary” that a day after state lawmakers claimed victory in raising taxes on corporations and higher wage earners, they’re after more money.

“And they’re not even shy about it. The very next day,” he said. “’Thanks for all the revenue. Our first item is not job creation.’ Our first item should be job creation.”

When Kulongoski was asked whether he had a plan to create private-sector jobs, he did not offer a specific idea.

“There are some proposals that we’re looking at and we’ll see,” he said. “I had one last session, and we’ll see where it goes.”

If the Legislature is successful in referring a kicker reform measure to voters it will be on the November ballot.