Opponents of an attempt to put a cigarette tax to pay for health insurance for children into the Oregon constitution say substantial budget growth should have been enough to accommodate the program.
They also note many children who would receive state-funded health care in a proposed new “Healthy Kids” program are already eligible to enroll in existing programs.
“The budget grew 21 percent with $856 million in new taxes and 44 fee increases” from the 2005-2007 budget to the just-approved 2007-2009 budget, said Jason Williams, executive director of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon.
“There apparently was enough money to pay for 21 percent pay increases for state agency directors, yet there was no room for children’s health? This is a clear indication that the governor and proponents of his plan put politics before priorities,” Williams noted.
State Rep. Linda Flores (R-Clackamas) questioned the need for the new program. “A majority of the children who are supposed to benefit from this new program can already sign up for health care through other state programs,” said Flores, who serves as chair of the state’s Taxpayer Protection Caucus, sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. “The state has plenty of money in the bank. We don’t need any more taxes right now.”
— Sandra Fabry