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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

22nd December
written by JHiggins

A new direction for Oregon

Eric Wilson

Issue date: 5/8/06 Section: Forum

It should be obvious to anyone living in the State of Oregon that we have traveled down a bumpy and often turbulent path recently in both state and local government. With high taxes, an often unfriendly business environment and a fledgling school/higher education system, it quickly becomes apparent to most people that the old way just isn’t working anymore.

So let’s go ahead and start at the beginning. One often hears the cries of legislators claiming we need more money for Oregon public schools in an attempt to build momentum for a tax increase. What these same legislators don’t tell you is that per capita, we are near the top of the 50 states in education spending. Monetarily, this means that state spending for education has almost doubled in approximately the last 50 years. Oregon teachers still earn more than the national average even while, according to the Cascade Policy Institute, other Oregonians earn less. Furthermore, we have one of the most lavish Public Employee Retirement Systems (PERS) in the country. While teachers often deserve a higher rate of pay, higher than the national average, in this case we simply can’t afford it.

And what has this done for the State of Oregon? In terms of national averages, not a whole lot. High school juniors and seniors only rank around average in comparison with their peers throughout the country.

And our problems don’t end here. Oregon, most notably Multnomah County, has often been seen as an anti-business and unfriendly place for companies to locate. Much of this is a direct result of our high taxes, especially Multnomah County’s Business Income Tax, which often creates incentives for business to locate in surrounding areas such as Clackamas or Washington County. According to a study done in 2003 by the Small Business Survival Index, Oregon ranked near the bottom while our neighbor to the north was ranked near the top.

The problem with this should be obvious. Where is the incentive for a small business to come to Portland when they can locate in Washington?

Oregon doesn’t have a monetary problem. On the contrary, what they have can be described as none other than a spending problem. Consequently, if Oregon continues on this path, it may not have much left. Businesses will have an incentive to relocate elsewhere around the country, and the economy will continue to decline as we have seen in recent years.

I think it’s time for not only a change but a big change in this state. We have had the leadership of Democratic governors for almost two decades. While some of our current woes may not be entirely their fault, like anything else, success or failure resides in the person in charge.

Likewise, it’s not just the Republicans who are becoming increasingly frustrated. In a poll recently published in the Oregonian, 48 percent of Democrats feel that Oregon is on the wrong track, compared with 41 percent who feel we are moving in the right direction. The margin for the Republicans was naturally higher, with 66 percent expressing their dissatisfaction versus 22 percent who feel we are moving in the right direction.

The democratic leadership in this state has failed to control spending and put caps on the PERS system. If we continue on this same path we may in fact be setting ourselves up for failure.

With a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in agreement with the direction our state is headed, it should seem obvious to anyone that we need a new voice in government. I think the best person for this job is Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton.

Apart from his fiscally conservative policies, Saxton has chosen to take on the tough issues that are currently affecting Oregonians head on. He pledges to reform the PERS and education system, lower taxes to encourage business and strengthen the economy as well as eliminating government waste.

With the current challenges that currently lie ahead of us, we have a choice to either continue with the status quo, which so far, has given dismal results, or enact a fresh change in leadership. Unless we make change now we are left with a system that is not only inefficient but ineffective.

Eric Wilson is a junior in political science. The opinions expressed in his columns, which appear every Monday, do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Wilson can be reached at forum@dailybarometer.com.

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