by Gordon Clay
Have you noticed those professionally made “Job Killing” billboards on Chetco Avenue? Is it a coincidence that the cross street is Easy Street. I’m sure they cost more than $150 each. And they are all over the state. What’s that all about?
Oregon’s recent budget shortfall was 14.5 percent. State revenues plummeted 19 percent between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, a reflection of Oregon’s heavy reliance on income taxes. Voters have rejected adding a sales tax nine times, thwarting attempts at creating a new source of state revenue to stimulate the economy. Remember, 44 million people moved to Oregon last year, hopefully more because of the future than to get away from paying taxes.
To find out more, I attended all three Town Hall meetings on Tuesday, Jan. 5, to hear and tape State Senator Kruse and State Representative Krieger’s spin on 66/67. I expected to hear from “my” representative legislators and was surprised to find out that it was a very one-sided look at how “they” (the Democrats) have lied and cheated and “we” (the Republicans) have worked totally above board to bring the people of Oregon the truth. It felt more like campaign Stump Speeches.
Representative Krieger started off the Brookings Town Hall meeting, insinuating that the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate (both Democrats) are unethical and bemoaned the lack of “honesty and integrity at the root of this country.” Let’s see. Do fear tactics count?
He accused the press of not doing investigative reporting. However, if the press did investigate the claims made by “my” representatives to Salem, they would report the false claim of Representative Krieger’s that Nike is thinking of leaving Oregon if 67 passes and taking 40,000 jobs with them. In talking with Nike, I was told that that is absolutely false and furthermore, they only have around 5,300 employees in Oregon. A second scare tactic was that South Coast Lumber was loosing $1 million a year to keep their employees working and South Coast Lumber told me they had no idea where that information came from.
“My” representatives claimed that the legislature is “growing the Oregon government.” What you need to understand is, if you cut effective programs by 15 percent and you reinstate them down the road, it takes a .1765 percent increase to match the original budget and that doesn’t include any adjustment for inflation.
However, human services like Oregon Child and Family Services (OCFS) was cut 20 percent. And according to a national comparison, Oregon’s Sheriff’s Department was one of only 10 states that had a decline in growth compared with population growth between 1995 and 2009, a decline of 31 percent. Next closest state was down 19 percent. Think the drug cartels are noticing?
Now, the Department of Corrections did receive a major increase but that only makes sense: cuts in human services grows the need for more jails.
They also claimed that there was no real budget problem that couldn’t be solved by accepting their agenda, which included asking state employees to pay a percentage of their own health care costs to the tune of a hundred million dollars in savings. See how it works? The small group of wealthy people asking people who aren’t making anywhere close to $125 million to use even more of their limited disposable income to pay for the health of their family. Not to mention asking people who received up to $2,400 in unemployment benefits during 2009, to pay up to $120 extra for the privilege of being out of work.
Honest? Integrity? Or just Oregon politics?
Federal taxes have dropped considerably in the past decade for everyone with taxable income over $33,950. Those over $373 million have seen a 4.6 percent drop in the last decade while those making under $8,350 have seen a 10 percent increase. And, while the upper bracket pays 35 percent over $372,950, the way taxes are actually calculated, they are only paying 30.5 percent on the first half million of taxable income (this is after taking all of the deductions that the wealthy can find.)
As educators know full well, boys tend to do better with active learning rather than sitting and trying to absorb a subject. Unfortunately, metal and wood shop have been cut from the curriculum and several areas of our sports program no longer have a coach on staff. These activities prepare some of our students who don’t plan or can’t afford to go to college, to find jobs. And our district is looking at an additional $400 million cut in the next school year, if these measures don’t pass.
There was so much more that I would have liked to include here. Like cuts in our mental health system, in drug and alcohol prevention and treatment and the list goes on. However, a transcript of the Brookings Jan. 5, 2010 Town Hall meeting is available with more clarifications at www.TheCitizensWhoCare.org/townhall.html. Check it out.
By the way: Check out that billboard on Chetco Avenue. Notice the hand taking a bill out of a wallet? If you make under $125 million in taxable income, that’s your wallet being fleeced by the wealthy and maybe by politicos who don’t really want to see anything work right now to turn our state and country around. I wonder how much 66 and 67 will impact them, if they pass. Hmm. It’s something to think about.