The New Year brings promise and opportunity for Oregon. Though we face challenges, we can look to New Zealand, a country of similar size and population, for guidance on turning around a wayward economy.
The Honorable Maurice P. McTigue, a former New Zealand Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, states that his country (more…)
Oregonians have nixed a sales tax nine times at the ballot box, yet at the December 9th Oregon Leadership Summit in Portland some business and political leaders were getting ready to try again. They proposed reducing state income taxes in return for a new sales tax.
Governor-elect Kulongoski and other leaders said (more…)
The intellectual debate about school spending in Oregon is coming to a close. The numbers and analysis in Cascade’s Oregon K-12 Revenue and Expenditures, 1990-2001 were largely confirmed by a report from the Oregon School Board Association (OSBA), done by economic consulting firm ECONorthwest.
Both studies found that (more…)
Portland’s regional government, Metro, is held up as a national model for how to get local governments to work together on such issues as land use planning. But now Metro Executive Mike Burton has proposed expanding the urban growth boundary to urbanize the 3,900 acre parcel known as the Stafford Basin. This is an area just north of I-205 between Lake Oswego and West Linn, which is surrounded on three sides by upscale suburban developments. The Basin has poor soil but was improperly zoned “farmland” years ago, which has prevented the landowners from building homes the way their neighbors have.
Burton has appropriately concluded that (more…)
Here’s wishing everyone a prosperous New Year. That’s not a trite phrase; it’s the foundation for our dynamic culture, a clean environment, and more.
What would you do if you had more money? You might be able to take your family on a vacation. Spend more time with your children. Maybe you would be able to (more…)
Most children are taught that Thanksgiving celebrates the Pilgrims’ first harvest and their sharing it with Native Americans. However, this version of the story suffers from serious omissions.
For its first few years the Plymouth plantation organized farming on a communal basis; each person was expected to work as much as they could, and take from common resources only what they needed. With little individual incentive to produce, colonists refused to (more…)
During the last session Oregon legislators created the current budget shortfall. They added new programs and spent more on existing programs than forecasts showed the state would have revenue to support. This irresponsibility has led to the January election on a temporary three-year income tax increase.
The legislature’s irresponsibility is a red flag about a (more…)
Every now and then we hear the call for taxpayer-funded political campaigns at the national or state level. Now, it’s even at the local level.
A sign in a government community center reads, “Exercise your freedom and vote!” This exhortation may sound good, but it should cause one to pause and ask: Is freedom really about voting?
Cato Institute president Ed Crane once remarked that the people in Poland, China, and other such places did not, and do not, rebel against oppression just so they can vote. Rather, they risk their lives to be free to live without (more…)
Discontent with Oregon’s education reform is now coming from new areas. Recently the Tigard-Tualatin School Board voted to side with teachers and drop state-required work samples that schools use to assess student learning in a variety of subjects.
Those who question the state’s curriculum and assessment policies correctly see this as a (more…)
Last week the Oregon Supreme Court invalidated ballot Measure 7, which voters passed in November 2000. Had it been enacted, Measure 7 would have helped constrain local governments’ zoning powers by requiring them to compensate land owners in certain cases where regulations caused a loss of property value.
Though the Supreme Court’s ruling is disappointing, the authors of Measure 7 have (more…)
A recent report by an Oregon legislative task force outlines how the state should improve special education. A number of concerns prompted the task force’s formation. Spending for special education has risen rapidly in the past decade, as documented by a new Cascade Policy Institute study. Significant resources are expended on paperwork and administration and special education programs are driven by (more…)
Portland’s Mayor Katz and Commissioner Sten are spending a half-million dollars to study the city’s rights to acquire most of PGE’s assets, possibly through condemnation. The idea of a government takeover of PGE should die a quick death.
Here’s the most obvious question. A sour economy has pushed commissioners to seek (more…)
In June of 1993 Cascade Policy Institute published the report Seven Principles of State Budget Reform. Ironically the opening sentence asked, “Why is there another fiscal crisis in Oregon?”
The current so-called budget crisis is not an accident: It was created by the (more…)
Even after a year, it’s too early to know what September 11th will eventually come to symbolize for our country. What it should not symbolize is a turning point beyond which Americans willingly began giving up some of the very liberties that made, and keep this country great.
Before the attacks, Americans were (more…)
The United Nations conference on sustainable development is winding down after a week of hand-wringing in Johannesburg, South Africa. As expected, the United States served as an international piñata for many of the delegates from poor nations. In speech after speech, the U.S. was criticized for its level of affluence, especially relative to other nations. South African President Thabo Mbeki, opening the conference, claimed that “a global human society based on poverty for many and prosperity for a few, is unsustainable.”
However, the notion that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer is (more…)
Oregonians will vote this fall on a ballot initiative that advocates a virtual government take over of all health care in the state. A look at Canada’s government-run health care system offers insight into the side-effects of such an idea.
To control costs, the Canadian government has (more…)
The bipartisan No Child Left Behind education bill is unlikely to achieve its stated aims. However, it has helped show that many associated with government schools are more interested in preserving power than improving education.
The new federal law requires school districts to inform (more…)
Republicans in Oregon and elsewhere are in danger of losing votes, and elections, due to their hypocrisy about smaller government and lower taxes. Gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix is exemplar. He’s deservedly catching flak for being an advocate of higher state spending in the next biennium.
Political satirist P.J. O’Rourke notes, “Giving money and power to government is like (more…)
In the 1970s the U.S. Forest Service came to look at fires as a natural part of a healthy forest ecosystem and officially ended its long-standing policy of putting out all fires by 10 a.m. Unfortunately, the policy change was only on paper.
There are bureaucratic obstacles to letting fires burn. In addition, the Forest Service receives a blank check for fire suppression-needed revenue in light of the 80 percent decline in timber sales that occurred in the ’90s. Thus, the Forest Service continues to suppress (more…)
The stock market has plunged over the last two years. Recent corporate accounting scandals have shaken the public’s trust in big companies and their management. Is now the time to revisit privatizing Social Security? You bet it is. In fact, if you’re going to start investing in the market, wouldn’t you prefer to start when the Dow is 8,700, rather than 10,000?
Over long periods of time, market rates of return have (more…)
Dr. David MacDonald is a co-founder of the American Association of Patients and Providers. Talk with him and he’ll provide numerous examples of decreasing health care costs in Oregon and across the country. From routine lab tests to MRIs to office visits, cost reductions are happening, he explains, because patients and physicians are once again becoming active consumers.
This trend is gaining momentum. The results will be (more…)
The recent decision by the Portland City Council to build a tram from Oregon Health Sciences University to the North Macadam district is reminiscent of the decision to fast- track the construction of light-rail to the Portland airport. In both cases, the transportation projects were deemed essential to the development of vacant land that would eventually create 10,000 new jobs.
Both projects were also “railroaded” through the political process in a (more…)
The debate surrounding government education and religion took an interesting turn with recent court decisions regarding school vouchers and the Pledge of Allegiance. Together these two decisions provide a template for thinking about how to respect the rights of both the religious and the irreligious within education.
The Bill of Rights limits government’s involvement in (more…)
Oregon passed its charter school law to foster educational freedom. The recent negotiations over the Mitch (Multisensory instruction teaching children hands-on) Charter School in Tigard-Tualatin illustrates one of the law’s several flaws.
Charter schools must receive approval from the local school district, a significant (more…)
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long awaited ruling that low-income children in Cleveland can use publicly funded vouchers, worth up to $2,250 per child, to attend secular or religious private schools. The decision makes good on the promise made nearly 50 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education. The message from the High Court is that parents of all income levels have the right to choose the safest and best schools for their children.
Wealthier families can already (more…)
The I-5 Partnership, representing the states of Oregon and Washington, will adopt final recommendations this week for alleviating traffic problems on Interstate 5 between Portland and Vancouver. The recommendations cost over $2 billion, but will do little to actually improve traffic flow.
The primary reason is that nearly half the money will (more…)
The failure of so-called electricity deregulation in California and the bankruptcy of Enron Corporation have led to calls for public ownership of Enron subsidiary Portland General Electric. Some businesses have jumped on the bandwagon, including large electricity consumers such as computer chipmaker Intel.
Public ownership proponents argue that (more…)
Low voter turnout in the recent Oregon primary election helped block numerous tax measures throughout the state. For that reason, some people wish to eliminate the 50 percent turnout requirement, which is simply a quorum rule.
To pass certain tax measures during a primary election, 50 percent plus one of those casting ballots must (more…)
During the recent primary election the Oregon Education Association (OEA) got what it wanted by defeating Ballot Measure 13 and electing Susan Castillo to Superintendent of Public Instruction. Although the OEA’s effectiveness is admirable, it is questionable whether the union’s actions actually improve education.
The OEA is a union and like all unions is (more…)
Voter apathy is the popular explanation for low voter turnout. As the director of publications at a public policy think tank, I am as far from apathetic as you can get. I withheld my vote on purpose for several good, responsible reasons.
I do not participate in the party primaries because the (more…)
President Bush showed his anti-consumer, anti-taxpayer side on Monday, May 13: he signed legislation that increased farm subsidies by $83 billion. This legislation, supported by Oregon’s U.S. Senators Smith and Wyden, and Representatives Wu, Walden and Hooley, shows corporate welfare is alive and kicking in Washington, DC with bi-partisan support.
U.S. farm subsidies were to have gradually ended with the (more…)
Political candidates and editorial boards across the state blame Measure 5 for centralizing education funding in Salem. Although the initiative did give the state a greater role in school funding, a number of other changes have also furthered state involvement in education.
A case study is the Condon School District in eastern Oregon, which is struggling with budget cuts. Lynn Wilkins, Condon School Board chairman, said, “Prior to Measure 5 passing in 1990, Condon was (more…)
When U.S. Drug Czar John Walters spoke in Portland last Friday he touched on the theme of his administration’s ad campaign: that if you use illegal drugs you’re helping to finance terrorism. He could have more accurately said that if you prohibit the sale of drugs, or raise cigarette taxes to abnormally high levels, you’re helping to finance terrorism.
We can ban products, but (more…)
Gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton deserves praise for making the state’s financially insolvent Public Employees Retirement System a campaign issue. The fact that PERS threatens to bankrupt Oregon cities, counties and school districts is not news to elected officials. Previous reforms have left the fundamentally flawed structure of PERS intact, and the mounting debt is getting harder to ignore. Let’s talk real solutions.
Last year Cascade Policy Institute asked one of the (more…)
Recently the Westside Economic Alliance and others sponsored an economic “summit” to examine the economy of the Portland metro region. The centerpiece was a presentation by economist Joe Cortright.
Cortright’s extensive research showed that Washington County is the economic driving force in the region. Not surprisingly, high technology leads the way. That sector has over 60,000 jobs and is (more…)
Oregon’s budget crisis is a blessing in disguise for schools. It has helped expand education debates from a myopic focus on total funding to a more useful discussion about spending priorities.
Despite an 11 percent increase in the K-12 education budget from the previous biennium, core education services are (more…)
The collapse of Enron has been grabbing headlines for months. Politicians are on a warpath to get to the bottom of the scandal. Their outrage is justified, but their vigilance shouldn’t end with Enron. Federal, state, and local governments are guilty of egregious fiscal mismanagement-on a much larger scale.
Worried about the lost retirement funds of Enron employees? It pales in comparison to (more…)
The Oregon Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court heard similar cases last week about the constitutionality of drug tests in school.
Here in Oregon, sixteen year old Ginelle Weber and her parents object to Oakridge High School’s random drug tests for athletes. The federal case involves (more…)
The Oregon University System will sustain an additional $27.2 million in budget cuts, announced Governor Kitzhaber last week. The budget crunch should prompt universities to seek independence from budgeting decisions in Salem. One school may have a unique opportunity that could be instructive for the others.
A philanthropist offered the Oregon Institute of Technology a $100 million endowment to enable the school to (more…)
The Oregonian has stirred up debate recently with its investigative report on the proposed deepening of the Columbia River navigation channel. Now proponents and opponents are arguing about whether the net benefits will exceed the net costs, and which interest group will gain the most from federal investments.
Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable problem when (more…)
School districts in Oregon face budget cuts that present opportunities to empower teachers, control costs and direct greater resources to the classroom. Districts should consider the following proposals.
Health care: In the short-term, increasing deductibles and co-payments and limiting the employer contribution are the (more…)
The Portland Development Commission has put 70 urban renewal projects on hold due to the recent Oregon Supreme Court decision in Shilo Inn v. Multnomah County. Amidst the collective hand wringing over the loss of funds, few are discussing the public financing sleight of hand that has been exposed thanks to Shilo.
The court determined that some property taxes dedicated to urban renewal projects were (more…)
Dozens of Oregonians are killed every year by fuel economy standards on new cars. The situation may soon get even worse.
The federal government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards impose average mile per gallon (mpg) requirements on every automaker’s yearly output of new cars. The current standard is (more…)
Much noise was raised about protecting the Oregon Health Plan from budget cuts in the recent special legislative session. A more constructive ruckus would have started with the question: how can we get more affordable private health insurance, and thereby reduce the need for the OHP?
The Oregonian‘s four-part story about Oregon’s slowly collapsing highway bridges points to a fundamental problem: we raise lots of revenue through transportation taxes, but there is no requirement that those funds be spent on maintenance.
The Manhattan Institute recently released its 2001 Education Freedom Index, which measures four types of educational freedom: the ability of parents to pursue charter school options, subsidized private schools, public school choice and home-schooling. Oregon ranked 16th, falling 11 places from the previous year. The drop in Oregon’s ranking occurred as other states sailed past Oregon to implement school choice reforms.
According to the report’s author (more…)
Oregonians’ ability to make meaningful changes to their Constitution was further eroded when the Oregon Supreme Court struck down voter-approved term limits January 11 on a technicality. The court cited a newly recognized requirement for separate votes on proposed changes that are not “closely related.” The popular initiative originally applied term limits to both state and federal offices. Apparently the Court failed to see the connection.
This ruling leaves past initiatives open to challenge and (more…)
When Governor Kitzhaber argues that we should pursue revenue increases to balance the budget, let’s not forget that Oregon is a very high spending state. According to recently released U.S. Census data, Oregon state and local governments spend more per capita than all but seven other states. This stark fact bolsters the argument that the budget should be balanced by cutting spending, not by raising taxes.
Fourteen months ago, long before (more…)