Gay marriage is a distraction from the critical topic of tax reformOregon state legislators are having second thoughts about a June special session. That's a good thing.
The Oregonian said it succinctly on Sunday: "The last thing this state needs is another bitter, unproductive session of the Legislature."
In the wake of Measure 30's failure, legislators are not eager to face the topic of tax reform. The statewide tour of the Joint Committee on Tax Reform has been useful and informative. The committee has found people on the hustings who are engaged in this topic, but that does not necessarily give the topic new energy. Tax reform is a difficult topic in the best of times; it is especially contentious now.
Tax reform proposals such as were released Tuesday might have a chance in a serious legislative discussion. But the new wrinkle in state politics is the issue of gay marriage. Some legislators, most notably House Speaker Karen Minnis, are eager to put that issue in front of the Legislature. The religious right wing that controls the state Republican party is hot to make this a wedge issue. But Oregon's problems are not rooted in that social issue. They are rooted in the state's tax structure.
Fiscally conservative legislators should be concerned that Oregon has no rainy day fund. We are living through the best example of why such a fund is essential. Talking about gay marriage won't get us a rainy day fund.
A number of fiscal topics beg for discussion. But there must be no distraction from that discussion. Unless gay marriage is off the table, spare us the anguish.