Progressive Party of Oregon endorses Rick Metsger for State Treasurer

The Progressive Party Oregon, the state's newest political party, has endorsed State Senator Rick Metsger for the office of State Treasurer.

The endorsement was based on Senator Metsger's long history of standing up to powerful interests and looking out for the average person.

Rick Metsger was the chief co-sponsor (along with Senator Vicki Walker) of SB 408 (2005), which stopped the private utilities from charging Oregon ratepayers for "income taxes" that the utilities actually never paid. These charges had amounted to over $1 billion since 1997. "The result was a rate reduction of $37 million for PGE customers due to their tax overpayments to PGE in 2006 and additional reductions since then," said Dan Meek, press secretary for the Progressive Party.

In his book, Free Lunch (2008), New York times financial reporter David Cay Johnston highlighted the practice of the Oregon regulated utilities in charging ratepayers for "income taxes" that the utilities actually did not pay.

"The champion at pocketing taxes was Portland General Electric. During the years 1997 to 2004, . . . each year Oregon residences and businesses paid about $92 million to cover PGE's income taxes. But PGE . . . did not file its own tax returns. Instead, Enron filed the tax returns. Enron did not pay taxes, thanks to its use of hundreds of shell companies in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens. That meant that Enron pocketed an extra $92 million a year from PGE customers, a total of nearly $1 billion during the years it owned the utility.

. . . The Oregon Legislature passed a law in 2005 to require that any taxes embedded in utility rates be turned over to government. Not only did PGE fight the law, so did Warren Buffett, who had just acquired Oregon's other big corporate-owned utility, PacifiCorp. Both wanted to profit off taxes."

In 2005, Rick Metsger was one of only 3 Democrats in the Oregon Senate to vote against HB 2614 (2005), which made it far more difficult for independent candidates to qualify for the Oregon ballot by collecting signatures. It prohibited anyone registered as a Democrat or Republican who voted at all in the primary election from signing any petition for any candidate for any office. The enactment of bill, with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature, was a major factor in shutting off the independent candidacy of Ben Westlund for Governor in 2006. In the 2009 session of the Legislature, Rick Metsger led the successful effort to repeal HB 2614, including a unanimous vote in the Senate.

He also played a principal role in the adoption of a new system of voting, which begins this November. Under the new system, a candidate who is nominated by more than one political party can list up to 3 such party names on the ballot next to her name. He also supports other useful election reforms, including instant runoff voting and a constitutional amendment to allow limits on political campaign contributions in state and local races in Oregon.

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