How tense is it in Salem right now? The governor just hired a crack team of medical specialists called cranio-proctologists to investigate the alleged legislative leadership. There’s ample evidence that the state Capitol is about to explode. And with less than a few weeks until the July 10 sine die date for adjournment, something needed to be done.
First of all, there’s road kill everywhere. The voting margins are so thin that even majority Democrats are getting run over. In the House, Rep. Diego Hernandez’s threatened “no” vote would have meant defeat for the $8.2 billion biennial budget for K-12 education. When Hernandez made it clear early that he would vote “no” on the education budget, Ways and Means co-chairwoman Nancy Nathanson used her authority to remove Hernandez from the Education subcommittee. She then cast a “yes” vote on the budget, allowing the budget to progress to the full Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, is another example of road kill. The provider tax made it out of the House by the narrowest of margins: 36 votes. A super majority of 36 House votes is required for any tax measure. There are only 35 Democrats in the House, which is where tax measures must originate. In this case, one Republican voted for the bill.
Way to go, Sal. Republicans put tremendous pressure on you, but you bucked them with your vote. And HB 2391 is huge, a health-provider tax that will generate $550 million to pay for medical care for the state’s low-income residents and keep Junction City’s state hospital open. The bill increases taxes on hospitals and imposes a new levy on insurance premiums.
HB2391 passed with a yes vote from Sal, a six-term House member who previously announced he will not run for re-election in 2018. So before you cast him in the courageous category, remember that Sal has already announced his retirement. Therefore, he won’t be “tea-partied” by a right wing Republican in his next primary — the fate of disloyal Republicans who do the right thing on budget matters. Another form of road kill.
Which brings me to Ashland’s newest state senator, Republican Alan DeBoer. He’s quoted as saying he might support a gross receipts tax for education. Make him vote! If he votes yes, great. If he votes no, then he can explain to all those fine constituents in Ashland why he can’t support adequate funding for public education or Southern Oregon University.
This Ashland seat was Democratic before the legendary Doc (Alan) Bates passed away. DeBoer is facing his Alan Bates moment.
DeBoer is under heavy political pressure from his party to vote no on the gross receipts tax for education. Like Bates, he has stated that the proposal is not what he himself would prefer, but it is the only proposal that is in front of the legislature to vote on. Make him vote!
Saul Hubbard of the R-G recently reported on four other Republicans who could wind up as road kill on these tough tax votes. Besides DeBoer, senators Jackie Winters and Brian Boquist (who already crossed the NRA on a gun bill) will have tough choices. And representatives Cliff Bentz and Greg Smith could be tea-partied as well.
The transportation package and the education funding component are still not in place at this late date. Democrats appear ready to capitulate by dropping the gross receipts tax and proposing temporary additional corporate taxes. Kicking the road kill down the road, to mix metaphors.
So yeah, desperate times call for desperate acts. But I think it’s working. Who’da thunk you could sneak those tasty peanut butter cookies laden with Ex-Lax and a superb Jagoo hash into the House and Senate Republican caucus rooms? It was too easy.
Turns out Jagoo is just what the cranio-proctologists recommended to cut things loose in Salem. Jagoo is a powerful combination of strong indica and sativa strains. You get the best of both worlds — the strong couch-locking indica and the powerful thinking sativa. Smoke too much and you might get a headache; most people take this to fall asleep and to relieve themselves of pain. This is a powerful strain.
We all know Republicans are suckers for sweets, right. Just look at their leadership, especially in the Senate. Anyway, Jagoo turned out to be the perfect strain. Throw in a little Ex-lax and voila! You’ll see movement! Stay tuned.
Former state Sen. Tony Corcoran of Cottage Grove is a retired state employee.