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October 17, 2012     The New Era Paper
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October 17, 2012 VouR COMMUNITY Page 7 From page 5 age cougars better, he said. Education - In the meantime, he will continue focusing on education funding, he said. "We still haven't resolved our school funding problems." There are not enough teachers, and class sizes are too large, Barnhart said. The House Revenue Committee, where he is co-chairman, is still working on reformingOregon's tax sys- tem to make it more fair and adequate. State Budget and Taxes He helped pass a la~v that sunsets every tax credit on a six-year cycle, allowing the leg- islature to review them regularly. "In the next session, we're doing incre- mental improvements in our tax system," Barn- hart said, and the governor has a work group, with members from labor and industry, review- ing the tax system. Barnhart is interested in the group's findings because the governor, through these types of work groups, has been success- ful at several reforms in the past, such as work- man's compensation. Barnhart is looking for a tax system that works, that produces the revenue necessary to pay for enough teachers and restore programs, such as vocational education, he said. Right now, the state doesn't have enough people working in the trades, and they're critically important. "We need money, but the normal house- hold is pretty well tapped out," Bamhart said. He is looking to close tax loopholes for large out-of-state corporations and wealthy taxpay- ers who pay a smaller percentage of their in- comes in taxes compared to the average tax- payer. "Oregon ranks very, very low (in taxes) for these kinds of big businesses," Barnhart said. "We have been making progress slowly but surely." The economy itself is a huge national is- sue, Barnhart said. "It's an issue the state has struggled with." But it's doing what it can, he said. Last session, the state voters passed a measure for $175 million to replace 50-year-old buildings on community college campuses. And legisla- tors are looking at another round of it. Projects like this and putting more teach- ers to work "help stimulate the economy and put peolble back to work," Bamhart said. The grocery store doesn't have two different lines for government workers and private sector workers. Their money spends the same. At the same time, the legislature has taken steps to make the government more efficient, eliminating middle management positions so it can run more programs without finding new money. PERS Another state program is behind increas- ing costs on school districts and other agencies throughout the state, the Public Employees Re- fully at a League of Oregon Cities proposal to tirement System. return local conti'ol and allow certain types of The problem is fixed, Barnhart said. It was tax levies to exist outside of property tax limi- solved in 2003 when the legislature developed tations to stabilize funding of law enforcement, a third tier of employees, for example. The problem is with the existing Tier I and "We're examining that very carefully," Tier II employees, Barnhart said. The courts Barnhart said. Local governments and people have said that that agencies have made prom- lost local control because of the property tax ises and they cannot back out of them. limitations passed in the 1990s. He wants to "Can we do anything about it?" find a way to build a system that allows them to That's the tough question, Barnhart said. make decisions at a local level without bypass- "Things are going to get better naturally," inK the property tax limitations, a way to grant Barnhart said. "But there are things we can do local entities more flexibility. and need to do." Barnhart has been supportive of funding He is disappointed that the legislature police departments, he said. He helped re- failed to do anything about an offset that re- store 24-hour Oregon State Police coverage in tirees have received in order to pay their taxes, 2002. Barnhart said. Out-of-state retirees who do not Personal pay Oregon taxes still receive the adjustment. He is active in constituent service, he said. The biggest issues with PERS, whichoc- In the past four years, he has held 62 town hall curred in the 1990s When the legislature was meeting across his sprawling district, with its controlled by Republicans, cannot be fixed, diverse rural and urban constituency. Barnhart said. That means pension costs will "I need to get out, and I do," he said, and remain higher than they can be. he encourages constituents to call him or send "I am continuing to pursue that," he said. an email when they have problems with a state "But it doesn't do away with all the issues the agency. He will help. School Board's been talking about." Barnhart was a lawyer, serving as a de- The best solution is an economic recovery, tense attorney and as a deputy district attorney. he said. In 2007, before the recession, PERS He returned to school and became a psycholo- was funded at 110 percent. Today it's still one gist before going to the legislature. of the best funded pension programs in the na-" He is married to Florence. They have two tion at about 80 percent, children and two grandchildren. Tax Levies For more information, visit philbarnhart. With local taxes, Barnhart is looking care- com on the web. From page 5 locked up our economy in many ways." In lieu of it, the federal government has supplemented lost tax revenue, he said. "We haven't fought it - not as a state." egon has today, Lovelace said. Property own- The Land Conservation and Develop-ers cannot divide their land or do much of ment Commission and land use planning anything beyond farm and forest uses. That's have locked up private property, he said. driven up the cost of housing and land, and "We're the only state in the union that has it's something that needs to be addressed. anything like it." Economy It's great to have planning, but the Tom A healthy economy is critical to a vari- McCall planning system is not the one Or- ety of problems, including the state's revenue problem, Lovelace said. He opposes raising taxes, but the state does need to raise rev- enues. The answer is jobs, he said, but the state is standing in the way with regulations, such as Measures 66 and 67, which, among its ef- See Lovelace, page 14 :! I Sweet Home * (541) 367-5353 1323 Main Street I I i Limit 3. Expires 10/25/2012 Void with other offers. 1 Valid at participating locations only. ,! REE Egg McMuffin iwholesomel' with purchase Of I breakfast II l anyMcgafe J choices ii I espresso I I beverage - i IValid only at Sweet Home, Oi:i"McDonald's . INot valid with any other offeL discount, coupon or /~/'~ imeal. Limit one coupon per person per visit. Cash value ti20 of 1 cent. 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