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Fifty-four ways Oregon can save its economic bacon

Another Voice

By RICHARD BUTRICK

Special to the News

1. Eliminate all positions in state government that remain unfilled for a period of six months with a corresponding reduction in agency budgets by the amount of that full time equivalency (FTE). There are approximately 3,000 positions currently unfilled.

2. The 2003-2005 biennial budget should delineate between capital costs, operational costs and personnel costs. Currently, they are all mushed together, which creates less accountability and more cost.

3. Eliminate all automatic inflation adjustments in supplies and services line items.

4. Governor should secure immediate resignation of all PERS Board of Directors as they have been judged to be irresponsible by the court. Quickly nominate replacements.

5. Reform PERS by adjusting to appropriate and contemporary actuarial tables. Dates of adjustment would be effective Jan. 1, 2003, with yearly adjustments thereafter (minimum savings over time of $400 million).

6. Reform PERS by creating a defined contribution retirement plan that would be effective July 1, 2003, and that would have a contribution of 6 percent of salary from the employee and 6 percent of salary from the public employer (savings in billions to taxpayers).

7. Insist on increasing the span of control of middle management to 1 manager per 12 employees.

8. Review and eliminate all new programs that have been created over the last two years. Avoid any funding of a new program unless it is funded at the beginning of the biennium, thus avoiding extreme “roll up” costs.

9. Budget an ending balance (stabilization fund) of at least 2 percent of a biennium’s General Fund budget income total.

10. Constrain Oregon State government’s budgets to no more than 5 percent growth per biennium.

11. Legislatively introduce a zero-based budgeting system, thus allowing legislative committees to review and analyze the prior biennium’s budget numbers without decision package enhancements and then add or subtract monies in the next biennium’s projections, based upon need, accountability and availability of state resources (thus eliminating the “continuing service budget” approach).

12. Legislate that state regulatory standards will not exceed federal standards.

13. Legislate that agency fees and licenses be constrained to actual cost of services.

14. Reduce state employee count by 5 percent per year for the next biennium via attrition.

15. Create separate salary and benefit system for managers in public sector from rank and file to avoid conflicts of interest in bargaining.

16. Reduce all out-of-state travel by 20 percent.

17. Competitively bid a variety of services now being performed by government employees.

18. Encourage the Oregon State Lottery to compete with games that are available at Native American casinos. State revenues would be enhanced by $40 to $70 million per year.

19. Eliminate Education Service Districts with the exception of rural areas. Pass some of those dollars to school district superintendents of public instruction.

20. Contract out the state motor pool, including maintenance and repair, which will save 10-15 percent and secure immediate cash by selling the current fleet, which has a value of about $20 million.

21. Contract out management of prisons. Oregon ranks third nationwide in cost per prisoner at $45,000 per year.

22. Privatize management of the Oregon Youth Authority. Per inmate costs per year are now about $100,000.

23. Privatize the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).

24. Eliminate Bureau of Labor & Industries and place necessary duties in Department of Consumer & Business Services.

25. Privatize the Driver and Motor Vehicle Division (Department of Transportation).

26. Abolish the Criminal Justice Commission, which saves $19.2 million and use some of these savings to avoid cuts in state police personnel.

27. Avoid passing a mental health parity mandate, which would increase escalating health care costs.

28. Ensure strict adherence to the Oregon Health Plan’s prioritized list. Do not pay for health services or medications for conditions below the line.

29. Ensure strict adherence to the Oregon Health Plan’s eligibility standards. Individuals who do not meet the eligibility standards would not receive reimbursable care. (Estimated impact: $200 million less cost of Oregon Health Plan).

30. Reform health care policies to make medical savings accounts easily available to all Oregonians.

31. Avoid any attempt to force public contracting law on private contractors.

32. Eliminate the so-called “Little Davis Bacon Act,” which imposes approximately 20 percent extra cost on all public projects (five new schools for the current price of four).

33. Repeal the political contribution tax credit.

34. Increase use of prisoners for maintenance and repair of state parks and other public projects.

35. Expand urban growth boundaries to accommodate increasing housing availability and providing industrial land locations.

36. Sell the Elliott State Forest, gaining at least $500 million, which could be used for a school stabilization fund.

37. Introduce tolls on bridges that need to be repaired in order to carry appropriate commercial weight.

38. Promote Oregon’s image of quality products, emphasizing that purchases by Oregon’s public sector will consider criteria such as revenue impact and Oregon jobs impact instead of just the lowest bidder.

39. Dedicate up to 1 percent of PERS investments to a venture capital fund to grow or start Oregon businesses.

40. Eliminate mandatory student fees for political groups at colleges and universities, thus allowing choice by the student. This will reduce tuition costs.

41. Promote rather than discourage destination resorts, i.e. Cascade Locks Casino or Pelican Butte Ski Arena.

42. Redirect the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department to emphasize economic development versus community development.

43. Surcharge driver’s license renewals for state police.

44. Place significant surcharge on vehicles registered in Oregon whose owners have inadequate proof of residency.

45. Eliminate the Winter Recreational Advisory Committee.

46. Eliminate the Advisory Committee on Bicycles.

47. Eliminate the State Board on Speed Control.

48. Eliminate the Commission for Women.

49. Eliminate the Hispanic Legislative Roundtable.

50. Eliminate the Body Piercing Licensing Program.

51. Eliminate the Commission on Black Affairs.

52. Eliminate the Ginseng Advisory Committee.

53. Eliminate the Office of Degree Authorization.

54. Eliminate the Covered Bridge Advisory Committee.

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Richard Butrick is president of Oregon Associated Industries. He listed as his sources: AOI Research and Legislative Proposals, Cascade Policy Institute, Sen. Mae Yih (R-Albany), Sen. Beverly Clarno, and Oregon Tax Research.

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