We are getting all sorts of doublespeak from the Legislature this year, particularly from House Speaker Tina Kotek. For example, “tax expenditure” (translation: tax increase or we want more of your money). Another good one is “shared sacrifice” (translation: taxpayers should pay more in taxes so that public employees and retirees don’t have to have reduced wages and benefits like everyone else). Of course, conflict of interest (because the legislators are member of PERS) plays no part in the decision-making process. Let’s examine the hue and cry about “tax expenditures.” One of the minor tweaks to PERS being considered is eliminating the amount a PERS retirement check is increased to pay for Oregon income taxes when the retiree doesn’t live in Oregon. No mention is made about this “tax expenditure” for in-state retirees. Why should this be eliminated too? We have often heard from AFSCME about how the generous pension and health benefits are in lieu of pay raises that private sector employees received, especially in the high-inflation ’70s, but that governmental entities could not afford at the time (so the “can” was kicked down the road). In that case, those pension and health benefits should be treated (and not subsidized) as taxable income just as a pay increase would have been. Madam Speaker, show me your sacrifice before demanding mine.

Harold Shrader