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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/119

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CHAPTER II BUDGETARY PRACTICE IN OREGON Until the system of direct legislation was instituted in Ore- gon a few years ago its legislative assembly, acting upon sug- gestions from the governor and the secretary of state, had full and final control of its budgetary activities. The bringing of the legislative authority here so near to the doom of a taboo is due most of all to its budgetary failings. It should be interest- ing to note how this repudiation of the legislature on account of budgetary abuses came about. That any representative law-making body may make regular and consistent progress in this most important part of its work conditions must obtain that foster the exercise of its best in- telligence and call forth highest motives. The development of budgetary procedure, more and more nearly rational and adapted to conditions existing, calls for presentation of a clear and orderly scheme of revenues and expenditures, a careful study of it by a select group, and an open and full discussion before the legislative body as a whole. Peculiar untoward and heretofore unalterable influences in Oregon have barred the way to the introduction of these requisites for the im- provement of its budgetary practice. The confirmed attitude of the average Oregon voter from the beginning has dis- couraged a calm and reasonable handling of the budget by the legislature. The only good budget in his judgment was one with the most parsimonious public expenditures or at least which he could be hoodwinked into believing was parsi- monious. Retrenchment was the only laudable public service. The constitutionally fixed salaries, including those of the legis- lators, express a perverted sense of worthlessness of public service. These beggarly sums still stand intact in the text of the constitution and virtually exclude the idea that the government can be anything but a necessary evil. This dis- paraging valuation of the public servants tended to blind the