U.S. Sees Huge Growth in Homeschooling

What does it mean for parents and kids today?

The Center for Education Reform reports that since 2003, the number of homeschooled kids in the U.S. “has jumped nearly 62 percent with 1,773,000 students being educated in the comfort and flexibility of their own homes.” Cascade’s publications director Kathryn Hickok discussed this trend on KUIK’s The Jayne Carroll Show on May 27. Listen to Jayne and Kathryn talk about the increasing popularity of homeschooling and what resources are available to parents today!

Is It Possible to Power an Export Facility Entirely by Renewable Energy?

The Portland Sustainability Commission recently recommended that the City Council approve a $500 million propane export facility proposed by Pembina Pipeline Corporation. However, as part of its approval, the Commission is requiring that 100% of the electricity used at the export facility be generated by Oregon renewable energy sources.

This is an impossible standard to meet. We know it’s impossible because Portland has already tried it. In 2001, the City Council publicly committed that by 2010 all electricity consumed by city bureaus would come from renewable energy sources. Yet, despite great efforts, Portland never came close to meeting the goal by 2010.

Notwithstanding this failure, in 2009 the City pledged to meet the 100% goal by 2012, with a new aspiration of supplying 15% of the total electricity load from self-generated green power. By the end of 2012, the City had only reached 9% self-generation, and total green power reached just 14% of all consumption.

If Portland has consistently failed to meet the 100% goal over a 14-year period, it should not impose the same requirement on a private facility.

Tennessee Special Needs Kids Get Choices in Education

Tennessee just became the 28th state to enact a private school choice program, giving parents more options for their children’s education. Governor Bill Haslam signed the nation’s fourth Education Savings Account law on Monday.

Arizona, Florida, and Mississippi already allowed parents to have some control over the funding allocated for their kids’ education through Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). ESAs are a flexible way for parents to manage some of the money that otherwise would be used for their kids’ education in their zoned public school. ESAs allow parents to pay for different kinds of educational services that may be the best fit for their children, including tuition, online courses, tutoring, therapy, or other categories of expenses defined by law.

Now, Tennessee children with an Individualized Education Plan will be able to use state and local funds, plus special education funds to which they would be entitled, for the schools and services their parents judge will best meet their individual needs. This law empowers parents of children with autism and many other special needs to get the help they need to succeed in school.

Parents of children with special needs want less red tape and more options. ESAs empower families to find and pay for those options, providing winning solutions for children. Oregon children should be given this opportunity, too.

June 1st Public Debate: Do Citizens in a Free Society Have a Right to Privacy in Charitable Giving?

Do you donate to any nonprofit organizations such as charities, churches, or think tanks? Would you rather not be subject to possible retribution for supporting what others might think are the “wrong ideas”? Then you won’t want to miss a free public debate on donor privacy the evening of Monday, June 1 in Portland.

As debates on controversial topics such as global warming and gay marriage heat up, there are calls to make organizations espousing views on such issues reveal not only the names of their donors, but their addresses, occupations, and employers, just like political candidate committees must do.

Such disclosures could deter some people from donating at all, thus stifling the free exchange of ideas that helps make our society strong.

Arguing in favor of donor privacy will be James Huffman, Dean Emeritus of Lewis & Clark Law School. Jim was the 2010 Oregon Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Arguing for donor disclosure will be Dan Meek, a public interest attorney in Portland. Dan is Co-chair of the Independent Party of Oregon.

The debate will be moderated by Willamette Week’s Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Nigel Jaquiss.

Join us the evening of June 1 in Portland for this public debate asking whether citizens in a free society have a right to privacy in charitable giving.

Full details and free tickets are available at CascadePolicy.org.

Event Video – Aging Roads? New Ideas!

Cascade welcomed transportation expert Adrian Moore, Ph.D., Vice President of Policy for Reason Foundation, at a special event at Multnomah Athletic Club on April 29, 2015. Adrian gave a lively, informative, and interactive presentation on a variety of transportation innovations and road financing options. The discussion ranged from topics such as driverless cars to wireless transponders. If you missed the event, you can watch it here. We hope to see you at Cascade’s next event!

Do citizens in a free society have a right to privacy in charitable giving?

Cascade Policy Institute

presents

A Debate on Privacy in Charitable Giving

 featuring

 James Huffman, J.D.

and

Dan Meek, J.D.

 

“Do citizens in a free society have a right to privacy

with respect to their charitable giving?”

  

Is there a compelling public interest in knowing the sources of funding to nonprofit charitable institutions?

Should all such organizations be forced to reveal the names, address, and employers of their donors,

as is now required for most political giving?

 

Arguing in favor of donor privacy will be James Huffman, Dean Emeritus of Lewis & Clark Law School. Arguing for public disclosure will be Dan Meek, a public interest attorney and Co-chair of the Independent Party of Oregon.  Moderating will be Nigel Jaquiss, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with Willamette Week. This debate is sponsored by the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.

 

Background: Contributions to candidates running for elective office must be disclosed to the public. The donor must reveal his or her name, address, occupation, and employer. These “donor transparency” requirements may deter some individuals from making political contributions if they anticipate the likelihood of retribution for backing the “wrong” candidate.

Contributions to nonprofit charitable organizations do not carry the same requirements. However, in recent years, pressure has been growing to require charitable organizations to reveal more information about their donors. For example, during February 2015, U.S. Representative Raul M. Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District who is the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sent letters to the heads of seven universities requesting donor information related to professors at those institutions who had previously testified before Congress regarding global warming and related topics.

The universities, including MIT, Georgia Institute of Technology, and University of Alabama-Huntsville, were asked to turn over to Congress such information as the source of funding, amount of funding, and the reason for receiving the funding related to the named professors.

 

About James Huffman:

Jim Huffman is Dean Emeritus of Lewis & Clark Law School and a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is a graduate of Montana State University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the University of Chicago Law School. Over a forty-year career at Lewis & Clark, he taught many courses, including constitutional law and constitutional history. As the 2010 Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Oregon, Jim learned much about the legal and practical implications of campaign finance regulation.

 

About Dan Meek:

Dan Meek is a public interest attorney in Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate of Stanford law school and has served as counsel at the California Energy Commission and as staff director of two Congressional subcommittees. He has practiced law in Portland since 1987, representing electricity ratepayers, political parties, candidates, and nonprofit organizations. He is Co-chair of the Independent Party of Oregon, representing more than 5% of Oregon registered voters.


About Nigel Jaquiss:

Nigel Jaquiss has been a journalist with Willamette Week since 1997. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for his 2004 story exposing former Governor Neil Goldschmidt’s sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl while serving as Portland Mayor.

 

Dessert buffet

Complimentary coffee, tea, iced tea

No-host bar (cash only)

This event is free. RSVP by May 29.

 

***

Cascade Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible and accepted with gratitude.

Cosponsors:

The Federalist Society Portland Lawyers’ Chapter

Roggendorf Law LLC

Policy Picnic – May 20, 2015


Please join us for our monthly Policy Picnic led by Cascade board chair and economist Dr. Bill Conerly


Topic: Economic Inequality: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Implications

Description: Economic inequality has been the hottest topic in public policy in 2015. Please join us as Cascade board chair Dr. Bill Conerly discusses reasons for changes in inequality and possible policy responses to this controversial issue.

Although Dr. Conerly is best known for his work applying economics to business challenges, he studied income distribution under the top professor in the field (Martin Bronfenbrenner of Duke University) and has written on inequality for Forbes.com.

This free, informal event promises to be a lively, interactive discussion about one of the most debated topics in policy–and politics–today. RSVP soon, as space is limited. 

Admission is free. Please feel free to bring your own lunch.
Coffee and cookies will be served. 
 
Sponsored by:
Dumas Law Group

 

A Generational Mistake

The Oregon Supreme Court last week struck down key 2013 legislative reforms to the Oregon Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) that would have saved taxpayers billions of dollars.

The Court in effect added some $5 billion back to the unfunded liability of the PERS system, which will now stand at over $14 billion. If not offset by new taxes or spending reductions elsewhere, public bodies such as school districts and state agencies will have to allocate even more of their budgets to pay for worker retirement benefits.

Before most Oregonians understood that the state retirement system was headed for trouble, Cascade Policy Institute published a 2001 report which concluded that “PERS is almost guaranteed to fall into steep unfunded liabilities over and over again because of its design.”

This conclusion was seconded last week when EcoNorthwest economist John Tapogna noted that “Oregon made a generational mistake in public policy, and the Supreme Court has essentially ruled that we have to live with it.” He noted, “That puts Oregon in a challenging economic position for the next couple of decades.”

The best way to keep such generational mistakes from happening again is to limit the size and scope of government so that future politicians have less control over our lives. Let’s make the $14 billion PERS generational mistake our last.

Aging Roads? New Ideas!

Cascade Policy Institute

presents

Aging Roads? New Ideas!

 Adrian Moore

featuring

Adrian Moore, Ph.D.

Vice President of Policy at Reason Foundation

The City of Portland is grappling with ways to pay for the rising costs of maintaining and building roads. The Oregon Department of Transportation is facing a similar problem with the state highway system. Adrian Moore is Vice President of the Reason Foundation and an international expert in transportation finance policy. His presentation will feature the latest innovations in highway, tunnel, bridge and road finance from around the world, with commentary about how these ideas might be applicable to Oregon.

About Adrian Moore:

Moore has testified before Congress and regularly advises federal, state and local officials on policy initiatives.  He is a member of the Transportation Research Board, and in 2006 he was appointed by Congress to serve on the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Finance Commission.  In 2009 he was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to California’s Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission.

Mr. Moore is co-author of the book Curb Rights: A Foundation for Free Enterprise in Urban Transit, published in 1997 by the Brookings Institution Press, which was runner up for the Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award, and of Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century published in November 2008.  And he is author of dozens of policy studies and articles.  

Mr. Moore earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine. He holds a Master’s in Economics from the University of California, Irvine and a Master’s in History from California State University, Chico.

Dessert buffet

Complimentary coffee, tea, iced tea

No-host bar (cash only) 

$15 advance payment (April 27th) — $20 after April 27th and at the door (if seating available)

***

Cascade Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible and accepted with gratitude.


If the state loses $1.4 billion for schools and nobody notices, did it really happen?

The Oregon legislature is in the midst of its biennial quest for more public school funding. Advocates are so desperate for cash that they are even proposing that the state seize gift cards as “abandoned property” if some portion of the original value remains unused after three years.

While grabbing gift cards is certainly creative, it will not materially affect school funding. A much more lucrative source is available if we have the political will: selling the 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest (ESF) and placing the net receipts (likely to be $400 million or more) into the Common School Fund, where investments typically earn 8% or more annually.

In fact, the failure of the state to sell the Elliott 20 years ago when it was first proposed has already cost schools at least $1.4 billion in lost value. It’s a mystery as to why school advocates are willing to accept this.

The Elliott is located on the South Coast near Reedsport. By law, most of the timber must be managed to maximize revenue for the “common schools.” Unfortunately, over the past 20 years, timber harvesting on the ESF has plummeted due to environmental litigation. As a result, in 2013 the state actually lost $3 million on the Elliott, then lost more money in 2014. These losses drain money from public schools.

This disaster could have been avoided. In 1994, the state commissioned a study of ways to increase net revenues on the Elliott. The consultant reported that “selling the ESF would be the most effective way to maximize CSF revenues.”

The State Land Board (made up of the Governor, the Secretary of State, and the State Treasurer) considered selling the Elliott in 1996 but rejected the idea. That decision locked the state into a revenue death spiral on the forest.

The extent of that loss was quantified by the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) in a report published last November. The chart below summarizes the results:

Simulated Prior Elliott Sale versus Actual Elliott Management

 

Simulation Simulated endowment in 2014

Simulated distribution over time period

Estimated residual land value Total value over time period
(Actual) managed for timber since 1995 $1.4 billion $0.7 billion $0.4 billion $2.5 billion
Sale in 1995 and invested proceeds $2.5 billion $1.4 billion $0 $3.9 billion
Buyout in 2005 and invested proceeds $1.8 billion $0.8 billion $0 $2.6 billion

Source: Oregon Department of State Lands, November 2014

The failure to sell the ESF in 1995 cost schools $1.4 billion in lost value. That is a very large number, not only in absolute terms, but compared with public losses elsewhere that have resulted in resignations and political scandal.

For example, the U.S. Congress is investigating the disappearance of $305 million in federal funds spent on Cover Oregon. At the state level, the Oregon Department of Justice has just opened a civil and criminal investigation into the $11.8 million of energy tax credits issued for an array of solar panels installed by several state universities.

Yet the loss of $1.4 billion in school funding seems to be uninteresting to school advocates. No lawsuits have been filed, and no investigations are underway.

The legislature should insist that the Governor, the Secretary of State, and the Treasurer turn the Elliott from a liability into an asset, as required by law. Selling the entire forest is the best option for doing that.


John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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