EUGENE, Ore. - Jerry Harden holds up a jar of his prized homemade Italian cooking sauce.
"This, I predict, will be a blue ribbon winner at the Lane County Fair," said the 71-year-old.
Harden is quite the cook and food canner. These days, though, he wants the legislature to cook up a better recipe for tax relief.
For decades, low-income seniors in Oregon have been able to defer their property taxes - not pay them - until they sell their home or die.
But now thousands of people who weren't expecting to pay taxes this year are being told to pony up.
Harden, an activist on senior issues, said the legislature passed "a clunker" of a bill to try to save the property tax deferral program for seniors.
Essentially, the 50-year program went broke because of falling property values and lawmakers tapping into the reserve fund.
The 2011 legislature tightened requirements, which means nearly half of the people who got property tax relief are now shut out.
"So everybody in the legislature knows that if those funds had not been withdrawn, in my mind illegally, there'd be no problem today," Harden said.
For Harden, the change means he must pay his $2,100 tax bill in full.
Harden said he'll have to take out a short-term loan to pay his tax bill, but he's quick to point out other seniors won't have that option.
"They don't have the money to pay their taxes. Those people face really dire consequences," Harden said.
He said the legislature should have allowed all people in the program to continue to deferring their taxes. "They should have made current residents 'grandfathered,'" Harden said.
State Rep. Phil Barnhart from Eugene sits on the House Revenue Committee. He told KVAL News that lawmakers did the best they could with an emergency plan and that close to 6,000 Oregon households will still get their taxes deferred.
Barnhart anticipates more updates to the senior tax deferral law when Oregon lawmakers
hold their next session in February.