If the State of Oregon is under budget by more than 2 percent, they are required under Oregon law to send back the excess money. The Department of Revenue will be sending or ‘kicking back’ the extra money by December 15.

Some lawmakers argue that instead the money should have been set aside as a rainy day fund to ensure financial stability and keep public school and healthcare systems running without budget cuts.

In the last recession, Oregon lawmakers had to cut almost exactly the amount of money that they are now sending back to taxpayers. This cut eliminated 100,000 people from the Oregon Health Plan and the school year was drastically shortened.

What other goodies could this chunk of money have funded?

We could have increased teachers in classes by 1000, at $50,000 salary and sustained them for 20 years.

We could have given 110,000 kids $10,000 towards college.

We could have funded Governor Kulongoski’s Healthy Kids Plan for almost 10 years.

Most of us will not receive enough money to do anything significant with. According to the OCPP, the average refund will be $612, but the typical taxpayer (the middle class) will receive around $297. The wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers who make over $360,000 annually will receive approximately $13,548 in their mailboxes. And no money is free; the federal government will take their share of the kicker refund.

Oregon voters have proven time and again that they don’t want to be taxed. But we are the first to point fingers at the state government when social service programs have to be cut. When you receive your kicker check donate it to a nonprofit that is struggling to provide Oregonians with services that the state is underfunding.