Mannix' scheme is not conservative; it's delusionalLet's see if we've got this right. Kevin Mannix and a group of conservative Republican legislators want us to repeal the temporary tax surcharge which the Oregon Legislature has enacted, so that we can throw our schools and our state government into fiscal chaos next spring?

The ink was barely dry on Gov. Ted Kulongoski's signature when the Lars Larson-Kevin Mannix-Bill Sizemore-Don McIntire axis excitedly talked of repeal. The conservatives will launch a petition drive to undo the tax surcharge.

What kind of money are we talking about in this tax surcharge?

For someone earning $20,000-$30,000 annually, the cost of the surcharge is $31 per year and $7 for taxpayers filing jointly. For $30,000-$40,000, the cost is $80 per year and $13 for taxpayers filing jointly. For $40,000-$50,000, the cost is $120 per year and $38 for taxpayers filing jointly. And so forth. These are relatively modest amounts.

The signature gathering process should not be taken for granted. From ballot measures of the past 15 years, we should have learned that a signature on a petition is effectively a vote. In this case, it would be a vote to undo the only decision the legislature was able to come up with to balance the budget.

Mannix will tell you that he's got a better idea. But he did that when Measure 28, the relatively small tax measure, was on the ballot last December and trending toward passage. Mannix sent a taped message to some 200,000 registered Republicans. Mannix told them there were sufficient funds to take care of state government's and the schools' needs. In essence, it was Mannix' secret plan to end the war. Mannix' tape had a tangible effect. Measure 28 failed, complicating the challenge facing the Legislature. After months of searching, the Republican majority was unable to find that secret pot of money that Mannix had touted.

Conservative is not the word for what Mannix and his cohorts are planning. Delusional is more like it.

If this tax surcharge is repealed, the schools will be forced to curtail their school year, just as they are entering the final months. And the Legislature would meet in emergency special session to deal with more wreckage.

Sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?