Reduce undue influence of special interests over Oregon state government
Oregon is one of only six states with no limits of any kind on campaign contributions. The result is a political system that puts powerful special interests above the public interest. No wonder the highly respected State Integrity Project of the Center for Public Integrity gave Oregon’s government an “F” on overall accountability and transparency, and an “F” on political finance, public access to information, ethics enforcement, lobbying disclosure, and executive accountability. We are working to put an amendment to the Oregon Constitution on the ballot to allow the contribution limits and disclosure requirements already passed by Oregon voters to take effect. The Democrats and Republicans will not even do that. They reject all campaign finance limits.
Strengthen vocational training & higher education
For decades, Oregon has decreased its investment in vocational training at the high school level and in state colleges and universities. The result is a “double whammy”: students who want to go to college are being priced out of attending Oregon schools, and students not going to college lack training in the skills they need for careers in technical trades that can provide a path into the middle class. The Independent Party supports legislation to increase funding for vocational training and make college more affordable.
Grow small business & expand larger businesses in a way that benefits the public
Every year, the state spends hundreds of millions of dollars on tax breaks for large businesses in the name of economic development. However, Oregon has no method to determine whether those subsidies are needed or effective or whether the large businesses are living up to their obligations. These taxpayer subsidies often have no economic benefit--just payoffs to powerful political donors.
Limit growth in state spending
Oregon’s largest public employee unions are circulating a ballot measure to raise taxes in Oregon by $2.5 billion every year-- a nearly 30% increase in the state general fund budget. As much as half of that money will go towards increasing the salary and benefits of existing state employees, which comprises 85% of the total cost of state government. The cost of these benefits are poised to grow by an additional $2.6 billion in the next two years. Neither the Democrats nor Republicans have been willing to control the costs of state government.
Increase transparency in government
The Independent Party has introduced a series of common sense reforms to:
- > increase transparency, including requiring campaigns to disclose their top donors in political advertisements.
- > eliminate $4.5 million in taxpayer funding for partisan activity at the Oregon Legislature.
- > increase the state’s political tax credit to account for inflation.
- > close the revolving door between the Legislature and state agencies into the businesses and unions they regulate or negotiate with.
Protect Oregon consumers
Oregonians currently have little representation with respect to protecting ordinary people from unfair business practices of large corporations. The result is policy that puts the interests of banks, insurance companies, private utilities, and big government agencies above the interests of Oregonians. One example: the Oregon Insurance Division this year forced some medical care providers, including Kaiser, to increase their premiums, even though some of the providers wanted to decrease them. The Independent Party and its officers have worked to protect consumers from unjust rate increases by private utilities and bring insurance companies under the Oregon Unfair Trade Practices Act.