By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
August 23, 2006
Ron Saxton believes that Oregon’s government needs economic reform — and that voters will support that message in November.
The Republican challenger to Gov. Ted Kulongoski stopped in Hood River last week to discuss his campaign platform. He said Kulongoski, as a career politician, has lost track of how the system is supposed to work.
For example, Saxton said Kulongoski promotes expansion of government programs – but then encourages a hostile business environment.
“Every cent the government spends first has to be created in the private sector. So, even if you’re an advocate of big government programs, you should really be supportive of having a healthy business base,” said Saxton. “Business is the engine that drives the system — it’s not a special interest group.”
He said that voters appear to be in step with his “forward thinking” since they have twice defeated tax measures in recent years.
“I think Oregonians are voting in a way that shows they want more controlled spending and more accountability in the way that government gets things done,” said Saxton.
He said there is no logical reason that Oregon’s average income should rank 38th in America. Or that state government should have grown in recent years by 150 percent. In addition, he said citizens in Oregon have less police protection per capita than any other state in the nation.
“Money is getting eaten up by bureaucracy and we have to focus on results. What’s important to the taxpayers and citizens is that they have a school that works, a jail that’s open and roads without potholes,” said Saxton. “The reason we’ve stepped back from results is that our system is just too expensive.”
He advocates for cutting the capital gains tax that has kept industry away. He also favors looking at ways to privatize some state services, such as the data processing done by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Another tough question that Saxton wants answered is why only six percent of the payroll in Washington State goes into a public employees’ retirement program, compared to more than 20 percent in Oregon?
“We have the most expensive retirement system in the nation — the costs are off the chart. That is why there is not enough money for schools and police protection,” said Saxton.
He said it is vital that the state find a way to stabilize funding for schools at all levels. Saxton said without a top quality education, it will be difficult to attract top companies that require a skilled workforce. And that will make it more difficult to provide government services.
Saxton, who is opposed to gambling, said he is not in favor of a tribal gaming casino in either Cascade Locks or Hood River. However, he acknowledged the “issues are complicated” and warrant further study.