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Faculty Forum Papers



John E. Morris
Professor/former Chair, Zoology

October 1995


In a year when Oregon is the only state in the nation cutting its higher education budget, the legislature has compounded the difficulties for Oregon higher ed by voting not to rescind the "2% Kicker." Such rescission would have given some relief from Measure 5 cuts. The "2% Kicker" law requires the state to return to the taxpayers any revenue above the projected state tax revenue when the revenue exceeds the projected level by 2% or more. This one-sided law does not specify an increase in taxes when the economy is weak, nor does it permit saving the "excess" revenue for such rainy days. In other words, despite the fact that the state economy is booming, higher ed and all other state programs are forced to cut budgets and lay off personnel, but when the economy becomes weak, the higher ed budget will be cut again. Oregon citizens need and deserve quality education, but this is not the way to get it.

Because tax revenues increased more than the 1993-95 projection, individual taxpayers will receive refund checks this November for 6.27% of the amount they paid in 1994 income taxes, according to an article in the September 1 edition of The Oregonian. Corporations will receive tax credits averaging 50% of their taxes! In the presence of this bounty, state programs are starving. In fact, the total tax load for Oregonians per capita and as a percent of personal income has been estimated this biennium to place us well into the lower half of all states. The "2% Kicker" was a quickie attempt to appease voters hungry for tax reform. True tax reform sees that state services grow as the state grows and more citizens have need of its services.

I and those named below have decided that a dramatic and effective way to protext the damage done to Higher Education by the "kicker" is for us, as individual taxpayers and members of the OSU community, to forego the legislature's "Christmas present" to us and reinvest our refund check immediately in higher education. We plan to send our refunds to the OSU Foundation, where we may make a Federal Tax-dductible charitable donation specifying that this money be used directly for instruction or for activities otherwise outside state funding (e.g., scholarships, travel, building funds, etc.). Some of us have decided to give the money with no strings attached, and others will target spacific uses and specific colleges, departments, or programs.

We have decided to actively protest this misguided use of state funds when higher ed and other state programs are suffering and have decided that we could show this best by returning our funds where they are critically needed. We feel that this personal sacrifice for all of us, a very difficult one for some, especially coming on the heels of a scant 3% salary increase after three years of no increases, makes a compelling statement about the commitment of state employees to their work.

We have also decided to take out a newspaper advertisement in late October or early November publicly stating our decision to do this, in an effort to convince others to do the same. We hope that, if enough citizens are willing to make this personal statement for higher education, perhaps our Legislators will get the message that we are serious about the need to support state services.

The risk in a personal action such as this is that it will reinforce the view of some that public programs should, in fact, be funded by private donations. We strongly believe that the funding of higher education in Oregon, as well as other essential state services, are public responsibilities. We are not attempting to alleviate the budgetary shortfall imposed on higher education by the Oregon Legislature but are hoping to make a public statement that will call attention to the impact of the action of the 1995 Legislature. We see our action not as a futile parting shot toward the 1995 legislature but as an opening volley toward the 1997 session. Unless true tax reform and adequate funding of higher education and other state services are implemented soon, all of us in Oregon will suffer the long-term consequences.

The purpose of this Faculty Forum paper is to make known our personal opinions that the "kicker Law" is a bad law and to demonstrate what we see is a powerful way to make this point. We invite others to participate the same way. Those who would like to be included in the statement that wil be published, or simply want more information about it, are invited to contact me ( or 737-5339).

Thank you for considering this opinion,

John E. Morris, Professor/former Chair, Zoology

OSU colleagues who join me in this action:

Carroll W. Dekock, Prof./Chair, Chemistry: former Pres. Faculty Senate
Sally Francis, Prof./Head, Apparel, Int., Housing, & Merch.; Pres. Faculty Senate
Stanley V. Gregory, Prof., Fisheries & Wildlife
Andrew G. Hashimoto Prof./Head, Bioresource Engr.
Joe Hendricks, Prof., Sociology; Dir. University Honors College
Kenneth S. Krane, Prof./Chair, Physics; Pres.-Elect Faculty Senate
Christopher K. Mathews, Distinguished Prof./Chair, Biochem. & Biophysics
Michael Oriard, Prof., English; former Pres. Faculty Senate
Irene Rau, Bus. Mgr., Chemistry; Pres. OSU Management Association
Tudy Seistrup, Office Manager, Home Ec Extension; Pres.-Elect Office Personnel Assn.
Tony Van Vliet, Prof. Emeritus, Forestry; former State Representative
Anthony Wilcox, Assoc. Prof./Chair, Exercise & Sport Sci.; OSU Interinstitutuional Faculty Senate Representative

The statement below will appear in the advertisement along with the names of those pledging their refunds to OSU.


We, the undersigned, are discouraged by the recent vote of the state Legislature not to override the "2% Kicker" law. Oregon's economy was much healthier in the 1993-95 biennium than projected, but, precisely because of that, the "2% Kicker" law requires over $163 million in unanticipated state income taxes for that period to be returned to individual and corporate taxpayers. At a time when the state economy is booming and a growing population has increasing need of state services, the result of this action is that state-supported education and many other public services will suffer continuing budget cuts even though funds are already on hand to greatly improve the balance.

To healp in a small way to alleviate the problem and to demonstrate our commitment to education for all Oregonians, as faculty, staff, and friends of Oregon State University, we individually pledge to send our 2% Kicker refund directly to the OSU Foundation in support of OSU educational programs or to foundations supporting other Oregon public education programs. We are hoping that this act will convince others to do the same and will convince our Legislators to remembe until the nest session that a strong public sentiment exists for true tax reform.

Opinions expressed by authors of Faculty Forum articles are not necessarily those of the OSU Faculty or Faculty Senate.