Month: October 2006

The New Oregon Health Plan

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

An Oregon Senate commission decided last week to introduce legislation that would centralize most public and private health care dollars in a new state fund managed by a board similar to the Public Utility Commission. The goal would be universal health care for all Oregonians.

At the same meeting, the commissioners heard two alternative proposals that would leave (more…)

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Nobel Prize “drives” home idea to help Oregon’s low-income population

Sreya SarkarCascade Commentary

Summary

Lack of reliable transportation is a crucial barrier for low-income and welfare dependent people in escaping intergenerational cycles of poverty. For these individuals and families, car ownership plays a positive role in acquiring employment, raising income and participating more fully in family and community life. (more…)

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Metro’s Natural Area Bond Measure: Open Space for Whom?

Introduction

Metro has placed a $227.4 million bond measure on the ballot for the November general election (Measure 26-80). If approved, the measure would provide financing for the purchase of natural areas throughout the region, along with a limited number of capital improvement projects in local parks and neighborhoods. According to Metro, this measure builds on the success of the 1995 open space bond measure, which raised $135.6 million in revenues that were used to buy 8,130 acres of natural areas.

Metro’s open space program has received widespread editorial support from local newspapers. Much of the support stems from the popular perception that (more…)

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Metro’s Natural Area Bond Measure: Open Space for Whom?

John A. Charles, Jr.Cascade Commentary

Summary

Metro’s $227.4 million bond measure on the ballot this November (Measure 26-80) would provide financing for the purchase of natural areas throughout the region, along with a limited number of capital improvement projects in local parks and neighborhoods. However, those who feel that the region needs more public access to natural areas, closer to where people actually live, may find the Metro measure to be a poor investment. (more…)

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An Inconvenient Comparison: Should Oregon Trust Europe’s Model of CO2 Trading?

Cascade Commentary

Summary

Oregon’s carbon dioxide emissions are already so low that voluntarily participating in a multi-state carbon-trading venture would only be a costly scheme with dubious environmental and economic benefits. (more…)

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Testimony before the Portland Development Commission on its Prevailing Wage Policy

Steve BucksteinThe Portland Development Commission (the semi-independent economic development arm of the Portland City Council) has resisted paying above market, government-mandated, prevailing wages on construction projects that involve some public funding but are primarily privately owned. Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries is trying to convince PDC that it should pay prevailing wages on these projects.

Steve Buckstein’s testimony before the PDC commissioners came as they continue to wrestle with setting a formal policy on the prevailing wage issue. (more…)

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Bridging the Ideological Divide in Health Care Reform: An Actionable Plan for Oregon

Health Care

Introduction

The subject of health care reform in the United States has become a disturbingly chronic debate for decades. Who can remember when we were satisfied with the costs or functionality of our system? What action-oriented person can bear to read another article providing a restatement of excessive costs and the uninsured? For a problem of this importance to persist for so long with no credible or sustainable strategy must signal important subtleties at work, beyond the deductive reasoning required to construct a new future.

Proposed here is a voluntary health care reform proposal that has the potential to change significantly the way (more…)

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Bridging the Ideological Divide in Health Care Reform: An Actionable Plan for Oregon

Health Care

Introduction

The subject of health care reform in the United States has become a disturbingly chronic debate for decades. Who can remember when we were satisfied with the costs or functionality of our system? What action-oriented person can bear to read another article providing a restatement of excessive costs and the uninsured? For a problem of this importance to persist for so long with no credible or sustainable strategy must signal important subtleties at work, beyond the deductive reasoning required to construct a new future.

Proposed here is a voluntary health care reform proposal that has the potential to change significantly the way (more…)

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Achieving Universal Health Insurance While Improving the Economy: A Reform Proposal for Oregon

Health Care

Introduction

In the United States, most health insurance coverage is obtained either through employment or through a government program. Few of us buy insurance privately or pay for our health care out of pocket. This approach has distanced the consumer from health expenditure decisions. As I have argued elsewhere, comprehensive, low-deductible, low-co-payment health insurance leads to over-utilization and inflation of unit costs and total costs of health care. An argument easily can be made that the problem with health care is not too little insurance, but rather (more…)

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Governing Ourselves

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregonians will vote on ten statewide citizen initiatives this November.

One Willamette University law professor suggests we should vote No on every initiative because he believes the system is broken. He’s afraid that so many measures on the ballot will confuse voters. He thinks that 90 legislators are better equipped to make decisions about such issues as state budget limits and tax cuts.

What critics refuse to acknowledge is that (more…)

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Warning: “Sin Taxes” May Be Hazardous to the State

Cascade Commentary

Summary

Oregon’s cigarette tax has become an “essential” source of funding for government programs and services completely unrelated to smoking, a prime example of why a “sin tax” is bad public policy. (more…)

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Unpacking Oregon’s Judiciary

Cascade Commentary

Summary

The ways in which Oregon judges are selected and held accountable lead to exaggerated partisan control of thecourts. Reforming the selection process would restore Oregonians’ confidence in the fairness of the judiciary. (more…)

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Courting Trouble: Unpacking Oregon’s Judiciary

Oregon Judiciary

Crisis of Legitimacy

In recent years, the spectacle of Oregon courts overturning citizens’ initiatives on purely technical and (to many) trivial, if not trumped-up, grounds1 has led many citizens to question the legitimacy of the entire appellate system. One does not have to look at what the courts do, however, to feel uncomfortable about the possibility of political bias in the judiciary. One has only to examine the makeup of the courts.

Fourteen of the seventeen current judges in the appellate system made it into office, not by being elected, but by (more…)

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School district Berlin Walls

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

How many of us remember the scenes of young East Germans risking their lives to escape under, over or around the Berlin Wall? Happily, those memories are fading since the wall came down in 1989. Unhappily, young people right here in America are still taking risks to escape our own closed systems — our public school districts.

Often, these are inner-city kids who use false addresses to (more…)

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